By James Walsh
Published: 2:00 AM - 06/25/13
MONTGOMERY — Cesar Perales, New York's secretary of state, came to town Monday, promoting the state's plan to draw businesses to tax-free zones at or near SUNY campuses — and to remind the populace what government has done for it lately.
A decade free of business/corporate taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, franchise fees and income taxes for business owners and employees was initially a tough sell to the Legislature, said state Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, who was among nearly 20 people gathered at the Orange County Chamber of Commerce headquarters.
"At first I was skeptical," Bonacic said, of catering to new companies while ignoring existing ones. "But let's give it a shot. We can always re-evaluate it." Bonacic said.
Hope for existing businesses
The Legislature approved the tax-free zones last week, and Bonacic expects that the lawmakers will move next year to reduce taxes for existing businesses, as well.
"We don't want them to say, 'This is the last straw,'" Bonacic said of the tax-free zones, "and pack up and leave."
Perales said that while companies could leave the state after enjoying a tax-free decade, the Cuomo administration didn't expect that to happen.
Giving kudos to Cuomo
He said the state wants an influx of high-tech, entrepreneurial efforts that could link to the resources of the SUNY system. He expected that their capital investment would be such that they would stay in New York.
Perales credited Gov. Andrew Cuomo with leading the state out of a dysfunctional abyss.
He cited three consecutive timely budgets, the 2 percent property tax cap, state-mandated teacher evaluations, marriage equality, and controversial gun-control legislation, acknowledging that the latter deflated Cuomo's approval ratings.
Support for casino gambling
The creation of regional economic development councils under the Cuomo administration brought $34 million to proposed projects in Orange, Sullivan and Ulster counties last year by tapping into the existing funds of state agencies.
Casino gambling was also on Perales' agenda.
He urged the audience to talk up the November referendum in which voters will approve or disapprove the plan.
Perales said the goal was to bring the dollars of tourists, not just gamblers, to struggling locales like Sullivan County that suffer from a lack of commerce.