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Lawmakers seek to restore Start-Up NY reporting requirement

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo discusses Start-Up NY at

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo discusses Start-Up NY at SUNY Old Westbury on June 28, 2013. Credit: Howard Schnapp

State lawmakers are seeking to re-establish reporting requirements for participants in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s tax-free zones program that were repealed in the recently adopted state budget.

State Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) and Assemb. Robin Schimminger (D-Kenmore) have introduced bills to reinstitute annual reports from Start-Up NY businesses about their hiring and investments in return for lucrative tax breaks for as long as 10 years.

The legislation also would again require Empire State Development, the state agency overseeing the program, to publish a progress report once a year. The report would be more detailed than the ones that the agency produced in the past three years, lawmakers said.

In the Assembly, the legislation was unanimously approved last week by the economic development committee in a bipartisan vote. It stands a good chance of adoption before the regular legislative session ends next month because the sponsors are members of the majority conferences that control the legislative houses.

Whether Cuomo will sign the legislation into law is unclear. He was frustrated by the criticism that accompanied reports showing that Start-Up NY created 757 jobs statewide last year, 332 in 2015 and 76 in 2014 after the state spent $53 million on advertising the program.

Cuomo said last month that an annual “comprehensive report” about all of the state’s economic development programs, required in the new state budget, was better than separate reports on each one.

“I believe the reporting requirement is more robust,” he said after a bill-signing ceremony in Hauppauge.

Boyle, chairman of the Senate’s economic development committee, said Friday, “[The] Start-Up NY program is not creating nearly enough jobs for the amount of money being expended — tens of millions of dollars. The reporting requirements that would come under this bill will prove further what a failure this program has been, so that we can end it.”

Schimminger, chairman of the Assembly’s economic development committee, said he wants to make improvements to Start-Up NY, not shut it down. But first, he said, lawmakers and the public need more information about the program’s performance.

Schimminger said Cuomo, in the state budget, successfully eliminated “that baneful thing called the Start-Up NY Annual Report . . . the days following that report each year are some of his worst days because of all the criticism.”

How the change, which was first reported by Newsday, happened is in dispute.

Schimminger, citing the 10 years of no state and local taxes for Start-Up NY companies and no state income tax for their new employees, said such “generous benefits call for the highest form of transparency and reporting. Shamefully, the reporting requirements were eliminated in the budget.”

Statewide, Start-Up NY had enrolled 230 companies as of March 3; 22 of them on Long Island, mostly at Stony Brook University.

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