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Cuomo seeks help from local leaders to pass tax free zone plan


Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked local government leaders from around upstate New York help him convince the legislature to approve his tax free zone plan.
Cuomo wants to create tax free zones for new businesses who locate at state-run and some private college campuses around the state. All taxes, even for employees, would be waved for a decade. The governor says he may even increase the plan to 20 other state-run sites. But he told local government leaders gathered at the Capitol that he needs their help to ultimately convince the legislature to agree to the proposal.

“We’re going to have to make our case and make it forcefully,” said Cuomo, who said he believes it is “eminently doable.”

Legislative leaders have not yet committed to the plan.     

The Cuomo administration did announce support in a press release for the tax-free plan from some local leaders -- including the county executives in Oneida and Onondaga Counties, and the mayors of Utica and Ithaca. But notably missing from that list is Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner. The mayor and the governor have had a much-publicized dispute in recent months over how much the state government should help financially strapped cities like Syracuse.

In addition, leaders in some localities have expressed initial uncertainty about the governor's tax free zone plan, because so much of the property in their cities is already tax free since it is occupied by non-profits like universities and hospitals. Some North Country cities have problems with this issue. And Syracuse has sought some financial payment for services from non-profits recently.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.