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June 25, 2013

Albany session marked by deals, scandals


What emerged from the Legislature was a revised plan — “START-UP NY” — that did more to protect existing businesses from what would have been an uneven playing field had they had to compete with the new firms taking advantage of the tax breaks being doled out.

“This was a vast improvement over what the governor originally proposed,” Seward said.

For businesses relocating to New York or starting up here, the program, which kicks in in January, would eliminate all taxes for 10 years. Cuomo said he expects the program will provide “New York an edge like we’ve never had before when it comes to attracting businesses, start-ups, and new investment.”

The plan is opposed by the labor-backed New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, which argues it amounts to a “rehash” of earlier programs that offered tax incentives to businesses and that it said proved to be unsuccessful and wasteful and never created the promised jobs.

The casino plan, which would allow as many as four private casinos to open upstate, is also being described by the administration as a job-creation program for regions of upstate where employment opportunities have been scarce.

Throughout the session, the 30 Senate Republicans were able to control the 63-member upper chamber only with the assistance of a small group of breakaway senators known as the Independent Democratic Caucus.

Two former members of that caucus, Sen. Malcolm Smith of Queens and John Sampson of Brooklyn, are among the four lawmakers who faced criminal charges during the session. Federal prosecutors have said more arrests are expected from an ongoing probe into Albany corruption.

“It’s been a different year,” Seward said.

It was also a session that left Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R-Schoharie, disappointed.

“I would call it a missed opportunity,” said Lopez, noting the tendency to engage in political brinkmanship in Albany erodes the opportunity to pursue policies that could enhance job opportunities, deliver still-needed relief for floods and other disasters and deal with the high cost of energy.

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