Phil applauds the Governor for the idea of Regional Economic Development Councils, which have injected billions of dollars into the Upstate economy. On the other hand, he supports legislation to prevent conflicts of interest, such as persons on the councils receiving benefits for their own businesses.
On the other hand, he voted against both Governor Cuomo and then Speaker Sheldon Silver on the tax free zones.
“The tax free zones are a gimmick that will not produce sustained economic development. They have never succeeded in any place that has tried them."
Businesses leave when tax free policies expire. Furthermore, the tax free zones are unfair to local business. Businesses that have worked hard to build themselves from the ground up are discriminated against. So are our local citizens.
For example, an engineer living in Niskayuna working at GE will continue to pay full income taxes while an engineer who comes in from out of state, moves in next door, and works for a company in a tax free zone will pay none. "That is just wrong.”
Phil believes in Keynesian economics championed by economists like Joseph Stiglitz and Paul Krugman. Keynesian economics was put into place by Franklin D. Roosevelt and stabilized our economy for 50 years.
It was based on the principle that aggregate demand, roughly translated as raising the purchasing power of workers, is what really drives the economy forward, not Wall Street. When Wall Street was unleashed, it led to some initial gains but by 2008 nearly bankrupted the nation, just as occurred in 1929. Without appropriate governmental intervention in the economy, there is an endless boom-bust cycle, which the middle class cannot withstand. Without appropriate governmental intervention in the economy, there is an endless boom-bust cycle, which the middle class cannot withstand.
The Nanotech center in Albany is a perfect example of this approach to economic development. Despite the transgressions of the Nanotech leadership, this facility has allowed the Capital District to compete against similar facilities in Germany and Japan. The private sector does not have enough capital to fund the high tech infrastructure available at Nanotech, but government has made that technology available to private business, creating jobs.
New Yorkers should not forget that it was a major infrastructure project, The Erie Canal, that built Upstate New York. Phil thinks we can do the same today.
“Making our infrastructure the best in the nation will attract business more than any tax free zones. Business goes where there is economic activity. It does not go where there is tax-free but no economic activity."
Phil is a sponsor of a bill that will create a formula for water, sewer, and storm sewer improvement, just like we now have for highways. Funds will be distributed according to a formula based on the extent of local piping. Older cities like Schenectady and Albany that have the physical infrastructure for larger populations will receive more aid, but places like Colonie and Niskayuna will not be shut out, as is the case with current grant-based programs.
“Formula aid is less wasteful and facilitates planning. In a grant-based program, municipalities have to spend time and money writing grant applications for grants they may never obtain. And the state must spend time and money evaluating those grant applications. It is an uncertain and inefficient process.”
Phil is willing to put his money where his mouth is. He introduced legislation to reinstate the stock transfer tax, which New York had from 1905 to 1981, and to dedicate all funds raised to infrastructure. This tax is a miniscule 1/4 of one percent (.0025) but, because of volume, would raise $14 billion for our state's infrastructure. The tax is not high enough to cause the slightest economic harm. That is why, when it was first introduced, every Republican in the New York State Legislature, save one, voted for it and it was signed into law by a Republican governor. "We cannot keep moving money around our budget, like a giant shell game, to meet the needs of the moment. We need a real plan for infrastructure improvement, and the stock transfer tax will do that."