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Business group likes Cuomo's agenda, but says more work is needed

Jim Bowen

An upstate business group is pleased with some portions of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2017 agenda, especially a plan to expand ride-hailing services.

Unshackle Upstate’s Greg Biryla said he’s relieved that there are no major proposals that would adversely affect employers this year, like last year’s minimum wage increase and requirement to provide paid family leave.

He said his group, which represents the upstate chambers of commerce, is pleased that Cuomo wants to continue a voluntary 2 percent cap on state spending growth, and push to finally allow ride-hailing services outside of New York City.

“It’s really become something of a joke that upstate New York cannot or will not offer this modern transportation option,” Biryla said. “It certainly has a tangible impact on our tourism industries.”

He said upstate New York still has major economic woes, though, that government has not been able to solve. He said the latest census numbers show the state lost population overall because of migration from upstate areas.

“Population follows opportunities,” Biryla said. “If you want to see an economic and population regrowth in upstate New York, it all comes down to a climate that fosters jobs.”

Cuomo has pushed economic development projects, but Biryla said there is no one “silver bullet” that will work. He’d like to see cuts in taxes and business regulations.

He said his group is encouraged by a proposal to reform workers’ compensation, which is the third-most expensive for employers in the nation.

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.