Astorino calls for tax cuts, natural gas, and high-tech and agriculture startups

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Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, center, outlines his Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, center, outlines his jobs plan on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, during a news conference at Bob Carr Printing ... Mailing in upstate Binghamton. Photo Credit: AP / Kristopher Radder

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Spin Cycle

News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino unveiled a jobs plan Tuesday that calls for cutting taxes and regulations, increasing high-tech and agriculture and allowing hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas.

Astorino also would renew the operating license of the Indian Point nuclear plant in Westchester County, eliminate highway tolls for agricultural trucks and use a $3.6 billion bank settlement to repair roads, bridges and mass transit.

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The Republican, who announced his plans during a campaign stop in Binghamton, said New York, under Democrat Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, still lags behind other states in economic growth.

“Governor Cuomo failed to deliver on his promise to deliver the real reforms that will turn New York around,” Astorino said in a statement. “I will bring them.” (The highlights of Astorino's plan are at the bottom of this post.)

Cuomo campaign spokesman Peter Kauffman fired back at Astorino: “No matter how many tales Rob Astorino tries to spin, the facts are clear – Governor Cuomo’s strong leadership is working for New York. When Governor Cuomo took office, New York faced a $10 billion deficit and state government was dysfunctional. After four consecutive on-time balanced budgets, with 500,000 new jobs created and the most jobs in state history, New York’s economy is on the move once again.”

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Here are the bullet points of Astorino's plan, as released by his campaign:

1. Regulatory reforms
-- Sign executive order on first day instituting a moratorium on any new regulation and a thorough review of the about 750,000 regulations currently on the books.
-- Adopt the 2,219 regulatory reforms proposed last January and thoroughly vetted by a bipartisan senatorial working group that conducted nine industry-specific forums across the state. Among the reforms:

-- Repeal the Scaffold Law

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-- Reform the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) by reducing costly delays and redundancies and increasing time frame predictability.
Reform the Workers' Compensation system to include adopting American Medical Association guidelines and American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine treatment protocols to cut down on costs.
-- Require agencies to publicly post approval time frames for permits and licenses and if not adhered to, compensate the applicant for permit and licensing costs.
-- Eliminate the incorporation fees for LLCs and Partnerships.
-- Allow small businesses with less than 50 employees the option of self-insurance that would allow numerous exemptions from Obamacare mandates.

2. Tax Relief
(A more comprehensive tax relief plan will be unveiled in the coming weeks.)
-- Reduce or hold flat state spending in each of the next four years to begin to get state expenses and costs under control.
-- Make permanent the property tax cap.
-- Reduce property taxes and strengthen the effectiveness of the property tax cap by passing mandate relief, including reforms to the Medicaid program and Pension system.
-- Repeal hidden taxes on health insurance premiums levied through HCRA
-- Eliminate the 18a tax assessment on utility ratepayers.

3. Invest in New York’s infrastructure
-- Start by investing the $3.6 billion BNP Paribas bank settlement money into the most desperately needed repairs to our roads, bridges and mass transit.
-- Use portion of BNP settlement money to pay Canal Corporation debt, separate Canal from the Thruway budget and free up money that would otherwise have gone for Canal debt service to pay for infrastructure projects like the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
-- Dedicate sales tax revenue from gasoline purchases to pay for investments in roads, bridges and mass transit.

4. Accelerate energy development
-- Move forward with natural gas exploration and drilling upstate.
-- Use SBC (System Benefit Charge) funds now at NYSERDA to help pay for the cost of bringing natural gas distribution lines to communities where the service currently doesn’t exist.
-- Renew the Indian Point Energy Center license, support Massena in their efforts to be approved for a new plant.
-- Alleviate transmission congestion and upgrade the power grid.
-- Support other renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydro and provide grants and low interest loans to farms and businesses that make energy efficient improvements.

5. Accelerate technology start-up creation
-- Offer individuals a state income tax credit to encourage private investing in qualified start-up ventures.
-- Streamline the tech-transfer process at state colleges and universities so students and professors can more easily commercialize their inventions.
-- Pass a law that bans the enforceability of “noncompete agreements” – keeping more top talent in New York as it would open up greater opportunities for hi-tech workers and entrepreneurs by eliminating unnecessary restrictions on the flow of talent between companies.
-- Support entrepreneurial networks with technical assistance to encourage collaboration across communities and organizations that support start-ups.

6. Increase availability of skilled workers
-- Create regional councils comprised of local educators and employers to help high schools tailor vocational education programs to match the needs and demands of local employers.
-- Make job-training investments directly to community colleges to streamline the training of new workers for local industry needs.
-- Increase coordination between community colleges, local school districts and local industry so students can be properly counseled on the present and future availability of jobs, the types of jobs, their pay and benefits, and the skills needed to do these jobs.

7. Strengthening our agricultural heritage and economy
-- Create a New York Farmer’s EZ-Pass that eliminates Thruway tolls for New York farm-based trucks transporting farm-to-market products.
-- Support the Ritchie-Magee legislation (S.4260/A.6024) that reduces taxes, fees and regulatory burdens on New York’s family farmers.
-- Support a pilot program in which beginning farmers receive tax incentives to start farms in New York State.

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