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- Crain's New York Business quotes Scott Drenkard on N...
Crain's New York Business quotes Scott Drenkard on NY's tax climate
A report ranking New York's business climate last in the nation is deemed off base by the governor's right-hand man.
A report ranking New York's business climate last in the nation is not being well received by Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration.
In a radio interview, Lawrence Schwartz, the governor's secretary and a top advisor, blasted the report by the Tax Foundation, questioning the group's methodology and accusing it of manipulating the data.
"They basically took a lot of data sets and manipulated them to fit their worldview," Mr. Schwartz said on Fred Dicker's Albany-based radio show Thursday. "They support a flat tax, not a progressive tax like we do here in New York state."
He charged that the Tax Foundation, a right-leaning national group based in Washington, D.C., weighted some taxes more than others, producing a lower ranking for New York than if all taxes had been treated equally. New York's corporate taxes are relatively low, while its income taxes and property taxes are among the highest in the country, the analysis charged.
"You can tell I'm a little irritated by the Tax Foundation's report," Mr. Schwartz added.
Scott Drenkard, an economist with the Tax Foundation, said other independent organizations have similarly ranked New York's tax climate among the worst.
"New York is a high-tax state, by any metric," he said. Mr. Cuomo's property tax cap did not factor into the group's report, though, and could help improve the state's ranking in future assessments by limiting tax growth, Mr. Drenkard said.
Mr. Schwartz, the Cuomo aide, said the foundation ignored the progress the Cuomo administration has made in lowering the tax burden on individuals and businesses. For example, last year the state Legislature passed the governor's property tax cap, which limits the annual growth of property taxes to 2% or the rate of inflation, with some exceptions.
Mr. Schwartz also questioned other states' rankings, noting that third-ranked Nevada has 14% unemployment rate and a crippling housing crisis. "I'd rather live in New York than Nevada," he sniped.
As it happens, the states ranked by the Tax Foundation as friendliest to business have little commercial activity. Wyoming's gross domestic product is 49th in the nation, while New York's is third and contributes 7.7% of the nation's total. States ranked best by the foundation contribute, on average, just a fraction of a percentage point of the total.
Mr. Cuomo has made job growth and improving New York's economy a cornerstone of his agenda. Adopting the mantra "New York is open for business," the governor has created regional economic development councils comprised of local businesses, academics and elected officials to craft job creation plans custom-made for each of the state's 12 regions.
©2012 Crain Communications Inc.
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