ALBANY, N.Y. -- The idea behind Governor Cuomo's Tax Free NY proposal is to attract more businesses to the region by getting rid of taxes.
"The challenge, as you know, is to make New York State a leader in the economy," the Governor stated on Monday.
The proposal would make SUNY campuses, like UAlbany, a tax free zone. Any startup businesses associated with the university and companies that create new jobs would be exempt from corporate taxes and property taxes for ten years. One of the most controversial components of the proposal is that employees working for the businesses in tax free zones would also be exempt from paying state income taxes for up to five years.
It's unusual in that he's proposing the idea of employees of targeted businesses actually paying no state income tax.
Stephen Madarasz of CSEA, which represents employees of the SUNY system, calls it unfair corporate welfare.
"Our argument is that it is somewhat unfair to have some people paying one thing, while others are not," he said.
CSEA launched a campaign against the Tax Free New York proposal. The response from the office of the governor states, "CSEA's fight to preserve the status quo is a fight to continue a decade's long deterioration of the upstate economy. Governor Cuomo's tax free communities plan would reverse this trend."
"I think he realized there are a lot of competitive disadvantages NY has, taxes are one of them," said Mark Egan of the Albany-Colonie Regional Chamber.
Egan said he was concerned that the state would be losing out on revenue from businesses in tax free zones, but liked the idea of attracting more companies to the region.