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Gov. Cuomo pushes agenda to revitalize upstate economy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is hoping a three-pronged agenda can revitalize a shrinking economy across upstate New York.  In Syracuse on Thursday, Cuomo touted a Financial Restructuring Board that will help struggling local governments, a proposal to bring resort gaming upstate, and START-UP NY as ways to jump start an upstate economy that's been losing jobs for years. The START-UP NY plan will make SUNY campuses entrepreneurial tax-free zones, that the governor says will help keep new businesses in the state.

At Onondaga Community College, Cuomo described the upstate economy as a balloon with a pinhole in it, slowly shrinking. His answer to patching the hole starts with a Financial Restructuring Board that'll help struggling local governments reorganize.

"Maybe a city isn't a viable economic unit," Cuomo said. "Maybe we have to put one city together with another city. Maybe we have to merge a city with a county."

Part two of the plan would bring tourists upstate by way of resort gaming.

"There are casinos in our state already," Cuomo said. "The only question really is, do we get those dollars, and do we regulate them or not. This is going to be a referendum on the ballot this year."

Cuomo also suggests that businesses taking advantage of START-UP NY, which will make SUNY campuses entrepreneurial tax-free zones for up to ten years, will keep many businesses in the state from fleeing.

"This program says no new taxes for ten years," Cuomo said. "Why?  Because we believe at the end of ten years, they'll be rooted. At the end of ten years, you get married, you buy a house, your kids are in the schools,  you're rooted, you're in a community.  It's not so easy to pick up and leave at the end of ten years."

Finally, Cuomo touted tax cuts for middle class families and businesses.

"If you can get the high tax problem away, you're gonna win," Cuomo said. "Why?  Because we have so many assets in upstate New York. It's just the high taxes are like trying to swim with an anchor around your neck."

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.