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Nixon criticizes Cuomo economic development, urges new approach

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon are

 Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Cynthia Nixon are vying to be the Democratic candidate for governor. Photo Credit: Composite: Getty Images / Drew Angerer

ALBANY – Democratic primary candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon on Tuesday criticized Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s economic development program and called for a new focus that would include a $15 minimum wage for all New Yorkers, legalizing marijuana, funding worker-owned businesses and greater accountability of what she said has been “rampant corruption” in Cuomo’s programs.

She said she would hold companies accountable for the jobs they promised in exchange for tax breaks and focus on workers, not corporations. She said her economic development would expand job training and address what she said has been racial and economic inequality in the state’s awarding of tax incentives to communities.

“As governor, I will take a different approach by investing in our communities, not corporate executives,” said in Buffalo.

Meanwhile, Cuomo was in Saranac Lake awarding another $10 million in tax breaks and other incentives to employers and local government officials to develop the Adirondack village’s downtown. It’s part of a $100 million state program to use tax incentives and aid to develop downtown areas.

“Businesses do not come to New York State without government incentives,” Cuomo told local officials at a news conference. “Businesses literally shop states … It literally takes money to make money.”

Cuomo, however, cited his push to create a $15 minimum wage, although not for all parts of the state or for all sectors. He also cited creating an aid package to make public college tuition free for many middle-class families, spending $100 billion on improving the state’s infrastructure, expanding job training, including in green industries, and setting a record 30-percent mark for state contracts to go to businesses owned by minorities or women.

“Today New York State has 8 million private sector jobs, more private sector jobs than have ever existed in the history of the State of New York,” Cuomo said. “And that's our success. …The arrows are all pointed in the right direction.”

Nixon, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in the Sept. 13 primary, also called for a “database of deals.” The measure would list all state tax breaks and other benefits awarded to businesses and individuals, the number of jobs created and whether the economic development package was worth the cost.

A bill to do that failed to pass the legislature despite some bipartisan support. Cuomo’s economic development projects in Buffalo, near Syracuse and in the Hudson Valley have been the subject of corruption trials this year. Cuomo hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing.

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