Presidents, ultimately, likely have little impact on the economy.
That same does go for governors, whose own states are very much subject to the whims of national and international forces they have no control over.
But one argument goes that public executives can create conditions (or stand aside, depending on your political POV) and help the economy grow jobs.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo finds himself in something of a quandary with the state’s economy.
If anything, the governor has been New York’s main cheerleader by pouring millions of dollars into a national advertising campaign and slick TV commercials that promote Greek yogurt and features the voice of Robert DeNiro.
Here in New York, Cuomo has traveled the state to inspect the progress of the regional economic development councils. Last week he took a bus tour of the Syracuse area and today he’s on a boat in Dutchess County.
All of this is meant to create feelings of goodwill and general happiness.
But not all business groups are happy so far. While they applaud the governor’s progress on the state budget, creating a well-received tax cap and Tier Six, they want Cuomo to get even tougher on public-employee unions. They want what so far has been on a very long wish list: a complete repeal of the MTA payroll tax, a roll back of the Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law and for the Thruway Authority to completely drop the 45 percent toll hike on heavy trucks.
Unfortunately for Cuomo, he has to respond to multiple constituencies, including a Democratic-dominated Assembly that has strong ties to organized labor. There’s also the Republican-led Senate, which, if it stays in GOP hands, will also likely push him next year on a repeal of the payroll tax.
Cuomo has another constituency: credit rating agencies. In defending the possible toll hike (which if it turns out to be the full 45 percent, I’ll eat my proverbial hat), Cuomo notes that while the authority has had its financial troubles in the past, it needs revenue from somewhere in order to keep its credit rating in tact.
Then there’s a perception issue, one that Cuomo insists the state needs to turn around.
The Tax Foundation this week ranked New York dead last in tax climate, even after all the publicized progress on the property tax cap and threading the needle on the December tax code overhaul (indeed, the tax code measure, passed by lawmakers while the paper the bill was printed on was still warm to the touch, literally, is one victory the administration is pretty proud of, since it defused the millionaire’s tax time bomb BEFORE an election year began in earnest).
The foundation’s report was refuted by business groups, including the Committee to Save New York-affiliated Business Council and Partnership for New York City, who defended Cuomo’s approach on taxes and spending.
Ultimately, New York’s reputation as a bad place to do business is really an upstate story. New York City is the financial and media capital world. These businesses won’t be changing their addresses anytime soon.
Turning around the upstate economy has stymied governors now for more than a generation. It’s a challenge that Cuomo, who logs a lot of miles across the state in his first year and three-quarters as governor, seems acutely aware of.