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Cuomo vetoes Sandy aid bill for retailers

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo attends a Friends of

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo attends a Friends of the Bay Cleanup at Theodore Roosevelt Park in Oyster Bay. (Sept. 21, 2013) Credit: Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has vetoed legislation permitting industrial development agencies to help retailers that are harmed by disasters, such as superstorm Sandy, officials said Saturday.

In a memo, dated Friday, Cuomo said he nixed the bill because it would undercut a provision of the 2013-14 state budget that bars IDAs from aiding stores. Cuomo had pushed for the prohibition.

"This bill incorporates no standards to ensure that IDA resources are properly directed toward those properties or enterprises in greatest need," Cuomo wrote. "For these reasons, I am constrained to disapprove this bill."

Brian McMahon, executive director of the New York State Economic Development Council, an IDA trade group, said Saturday that he was "disappointed" by the veto because "following Hurricane Sandy, IDAs were the economic development first responders. They were the first to provide financial assistance to businesses in an effort to help them rebuild and become operational," he said.

McMahon said the council would work with Cuomo and state lawmakers in the 2014 legislative session to win approval for the bill, which was sponsored by Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola) and Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach).

The prohibition against IDAs providing tax breaks to retailers went into effect in late March. As a result, some merchants hurt by Sandy, which struck the region on Oct. 29, 2012, were no longer eligible for sales-tax exemptions offered by IDAs on construction materials and equipment needed to reopen.

The vetoed legislation, which was approved overwhelmingly by the Senate and Assembly in June, would have created an exception for damaged stores located in a county that has been declared a federal disaster area.

The Nassau County IDA and two other IDAs on Long Island provided more than $3.4 million in sales tax breaks to nearly 170 companies after Sandy, many of them retailers.

The other participants were the Suffolk IDA and Brookhaven Town IDA.

Cuomo said his administration would continue to "help small businesses impacted [by Sandy] in accessing funding streams."

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