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March 9, 2004

Assembly majority proposes $525 million economic-development plan

The Democratic Assembly majority has proposed an economic-development initiative that would the extend the state's Power for Jobs program, change the state's economic-development administration, impose new restrictions on the state's Empire Zone program, promote strategic industry investments, and invest in workforce education and training focused on high-tech jobs of the future.

The package, which represents an investment of nearly $525 million, would provide "comprehensive, effective and long-term blueprint for building a stronger economy and creating more jobs in New York State," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a release.

Echoing many different studies by The Business Council and its research affiliate, The Public Policy Institute, Silver noted that New York has trailed the nation in job growth over the last nine years, and that merely keeping pace with the national growth rate would have given New York an additional 432,900 jobs.

"That translates into a staggering $20 billion in lost wages for New Yorkers due to the state's inability to keep pace with the rest of the nation. To put that into context, $20 billion is greater than the total combined wages for the state's Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley and North Country regions for 2002," he said.

Economic development should have "a strategic, market-driven and accountable approach" that emphasizes unique regional industries and assets, including colleges and universities, tourism and agricultural businesses, the Assembly release said.

"We welcome the Assembly's ideas on fostering job growth in New York State," said Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh. "We have already shared with the Assembly the business community's perspectives on what issues most affect New York's job-growth prospects—high workers' comp costs, the nation's heaviest overall tax burden, high energy costs, and high costs of health insurance, among others.

"We look forward to working with the Assembly, as well as Governor Pataki and the Senate, to address all these issues in a way that helps New York's business community regain momentum in the quest for job growth."

The Assembly proposal would:

The Assembly release on its proposal is posted at assembly.state.ny.us/Press/20040308/.