The state has missed its self-imposed deadline of Friday to issue an annual progress report on Start-Up NY, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s controversial program of tax-free zones on college campuses for technology companies.
Empire State Development, the agency that oversees Start-Up NY, had expected to release the report on Friday, the start of the state’s new fiscal year.
The report covers 2015 and includes information about the number of companies enrolled in Start-Up NY, how many people they have hired and how much they have invested in operations. Participating businesses do not pay state and local taxes for up to 10 years and their employees do not pay state income taxes for as along as 10 years.
“With many new businesses that are reporting for the first time, we are finalizing the Start-Up NY report and it will be released soon,” Empire State Development spokesman Jason Conwall said Friday. He said he couldn’t provide additional details.
Long Island is home to six tax-free zones with 22 tenants, the second most in the state after Buffalo.
Last year’s Start-Up NY report, which met a revised deadline, sparked controversy because it showed only 54 companies were enrolled in the program in its first year and 76 jobs were created. Critics said the results were poor given that the state had spent millions of dollars on television commercials to promote economic development and tourism programs, including Start-Up NY.
Ron Deutsch, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, a union-backed think tank, said Friday that state legislators should know well before the fiscal year’s start how Start-Up NY is performing because they are often being asked to authorize more advertising for that program and others.
“Since the state currently spends more on ads than we may ever get back in investments, one has to question the justification of continuing such a program,” he said.
The legislature has authorized more than $200 million for ads, though not all the money has been spent.
As of Dec. 16, 157 companies had enrolled in Start-Up NY, according to an announcement from Cuomo. Together, they have pledged to create about 4,300 jobs over five years and invest more than $225 million in equipment.