Upstate New York is still lagging behind economically, and in job creation. With that... Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling for something that should be music to the ears of manufacturers... he wants to cut the corporate tax rate in the upstate region to zero. Cuomo made the announcement during his fourth State of the State Address yesterday in Albany. He delivered a broad, election-year agenda that also promotes cutting local property taxes. He called for expanding the new Start Up-New York program that takes advantage of tax-free zones around local colleges. Cuomo says businesses across the U-S are expressing interest... so, why not take it globally. Along the lines of economic development... Cuomo also called for a new, fourth-round of the Regional Economic Development Council initiative. Cuomo is seeking a second term as governor this year... and, the speech Wednesday gives him a high-profile forum to promote his first three years while unveiling an agenda with elements that will please both social progressives and financial conservatives. Among the social initiatives was a very limited use of medical marijuana at 20 hospitals across the state. At the same time... he also promoted tougher DWI... and, texting while driving laws.
Chautauqua County's Assemblyman says he was pleased with a number of proposals in the governor's speech -- especially regarding tax relief. Bemus Point Republican Andy Goodell says there were two specific plans Andrew Cuomo laid out that he liked. The first was a plan to use the state's projected 2-billion dollar surplus to help local governments have a zero-percent property tax increase for the next two years. Goodell says the first year involves keeping taxes under the state's 2-percent cap. Property taxes would have to remain under 2-percent in the second-year... but, the municipality would also have to take significant steps to costs through consolidation... or cut operating costs. Goodell says he also liked Cuomo's proposal to eliminate the manufacturer's income tax in ALL of Upstate New York... including Chautauqua County. However... he didn't like the fact Cuomo talked about the state's Energy Superhighway... but, there was no comment on hydraulic fracturing -- or "fracking..." Goodell says the devil is always in the details, though... and, he awaiting those. The tax proposals will likely detailed in the governor's budget... which comes out later in the month. Goodell also wanted to hear more about possible changes to the controversial SAFE Act. The gun control legislation was enacted following the school shootings in Connecticut.
A 2-billion dollar investment in classroom technology and expanding pre-kindergarten to all New York districts top Governor Cuomo's education to-do list for 2014. Cuomo outlined the proposals during his annual State of the State address in Albany Wednesday. The governor proposed putting a 2-billion dollar ``Smart Schools'' bond referendum before voters to pay for things like tablets and Internet connectivity. Cuomo also wants to establish a teacher excellence fund that would pay bonuses of up to $20,000 to teachers receiving top marks under the state's teacher evaluation system. Also on the agenda... providing the top 10 percent of high school graduates with full scholarships to any public state university if they pursue a math or science career and agree to work in New York state for five years.
A north county woman escaped serious injury when the car she was driving missed a curve on Route 20 in the village of Silver Creek... and, struck a snowbank. Sheriff's Deputies were called to the scene about 12:30 PM Wednesday... and, learned that 27 year-old Natalie Payne of Silver Creek apparently failed to negotiate the curve... and, the car hit the snowbank. The vehicle then overturned into the driveway of a residence. Payne was taken to Lake Shore Hospital in Irving for treament of neck pain. No charges have been filed.
It's been a busy past few days for the local Red Cross due to the Winter Storm and blizzard conditions along the Lake Erie shoreline... and, other emergencies. Executive Director Bill Tucker with the Southwestern New York chapter says they closed up four shelters along the state Thruway in Chautauqua County Wednesday. Tucker says they began planning early Monday for the likely closing the state Thruway. He says they worked with the county's Office of Emergency Services, the Thruway Authority, and others to open shelters for stranded motorists in Ripley and Silver Creek. However... he says due to road closings in Erie County... they opened up two more.
Tucker says their long week actually began last Friday... as their Disaster Action Team members were called out to five family disasters. Four were for fires... and, the fifth was a Carbon Monoxide situation. But, fortunately... no one suffered any serious injuries. Tucker reminds residents that they are 100-percent funded by public contributions... and, they get some funding from the United Ways in Chautauqua County. If you would like to make a donation to help out... contact the Red Cross at 664-5115.