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From the Ground Up:
A People First Agenda to Promote Opportunity &
Grow New York’s Economy

From the Ground Up

New York’s unemployment rate (4.2 percent)
continues to lag behind the national rate (3.9
percent), as does the State’s population growth,
employment, and economic growth.1, 2, 3, 4 The
slow recovery is directly linked to a business
climate that ranks among the worst in the country
and failed policies that too often pick winners
and losers in lieu of creating a healthy economic
ecosystem where all can thrive.5
“New Yorkers pay On the surface, New York’s overall economic
more in state and outlook is one of stasis­ ; but upon closer
local taxes than examination, the far more complex reality
is that Upstate is in decline and increasingly
residents of any other isolated from the national economic upswing
state in the nation. that is reinvigorating New York City and other
Downstate communities. The 2008 recession
It’s time to provide and the subsequent recovery, or lack thereof,
meaningful tax relief exacerbated the separate fates of Upstate and
to the Downstate.

residents of
this great

From the Ground Up

Introduction (cont.)
A recent report from the Empire Center found that 22 of 23 counties yet to regain pre-
recession private employment levels were in Upstate.6 The report provided a gloomy
overall assessment:
“By any standard, upstate New York’s economic recovery has
been among the weakest of any region in the country. Indeed,
parts of upstate have yet to ‘recover’ from the recession at all.”7

Additionally, nearly half of upstate metro areas have contracting economies as evidenced
by “negative Real GDP growth rates since 2009.”8 The separate trajectories of New York’s
broadly defined regions are made even more evident by the fact that over 75 percent
of the private sector jobs added between September 2017 and September 2018 were
located in the New York City and the Nassau-Suffolk metropolitan areas.9 This growing
divide is part of a decades-old trend of stagnating wages and slow job growth in Upstate
linked to the loss of manufacturing jobs and the hostile business climate throughout the

As the jobs began disappearing,
residents began packing up
their belongings to leave for
greener pastures, and college
graduates left in hopes of
landing their dream job—
or any job. Since the 2010
Census, Upstate’s population
declined by over 60,000 and
the State population growth of
2.4 percent was far outpaced
by the national rate of 5.5
percent.10 Population decline
in Upstate is the norm: 42 of 50
Upstate counties experienced
population declines since
2010.11 Fewer jobs mean fewer Source: Empire Center & U.S. Census Bureau
people which means a narrowing tax base putting at risk the financial stability of our
school districts, local governments, and our state as a whole.

In an effort to reverse these trends, New York embarked on an expansive and expensive
economic development binge. Consider the Empire State Development’s 2017-18 budget
was over $3 billion higher than the Corporation’s budget just five years earlier. The
From the Ground Up

Introduction (cont.)
Citizens Budget Commission, which prepares a comprehensive view of state and local
development spending, estimates that New York spent $4 billion and local governments
and authorities spent an additional $4.6 billion on economic development in FY2016.12
Since 2012, the state has allocated over $28 billion dollars to economic development.13
Despite spending billions of taxpayer dollars and being home to the most expensive
economic development program in the nation, the results have not measured up to the
enormous costs: Job growth lags, population growth is slow, and families are still left
with the agonizing decision between their hometown and their future.14

The State’s economic development efforts are kludges, complex solutions to a simple
problem, created to provide inducements for companies to create jobs in a hostile
environment instead of simply altering the underlying structures of said environment.
Outside New York City and the surrounding metro area, which booms in spite of this
environment due to the City’s preeminence as a global financial market and cultural
capital, onerous regulations and crippling taxes have inhibited progress and scared away
meaningful investment. A recent Siena College poll found that well over half of Upstate
business leaders cited taxes (57 percent) and/or regulations (68 percent) as challenges
facing their companies.15 The feelings demonstrated in the poll are supported by facts:
According to the Tax Foundation, New York State has among the highest combined state
and local tax burden in the nation, the fourth-highest property tax collections per capita,
the third-worst business tax climate in the nation, and collects more state individual
income taxes per capita than any other state.16, 17

New York can no longer survive or thrive as one of the highest-taxed states in the nation.
Our future relies upon us charting a different course by first creating a more business-
and growth-friendly environment and secondly by embracing our strengths as a diverse,
educated, and inventive state. It is time that we utilize our highly educated workforce,
reform our bloated and corrupt economic development programs, invest in our citizens
and unleash their potential, revitalize our aging infrastructure, and make New York a
place where people from around the nation and the world flock. New York State can once
again be the global capital of innovation building on the dynamism of Downstate and the
immense potential of Upstate. Together we can rebuild New York brick by brick into an
epicenter of success in the 21st Century. New York can lead the nation in job creation and
help to ensure all New Yorkers have the opportunity to move up the economic ladder.

Sadly, climbing the economic ladder is not as easy as it should be. The tale of two
New Yorks is not just about Upstate and Downstate; it is about one New York where
opportunity abounds and one where it is hidden behind a tangle of economic disincentives,
deteriorating institutions and communities, and poorly designed government programs.

From the Ground Up

Introduction (cont.)
Research led by Professor Raj Chetty, among others, found that intergenerational mobility
in the nation has stagnated in recent decades, while the probability of upward mobility
in Canada is almost twice high as that of the United States.18, 19 This is not who we are.
The United States is the land of opportunity, but we can not rest on a reputation alone,
we must earn that moniker by strengthening and expanding tax credits that support
low-income earners, encouraging work and ensuring it is not a detriment to struggling
families, removing barriers to employment opportunities and entrepreneurship, and
providing people of all backgrounds and abilities with the skills they need to succeed
in the 21st Century economy. Hope, success, and stability all sit upon the foundation of
opportunity. In this nation, we are bound and led by our rights and founding principles
—one of the most critical of which is the right to the “pursuit of happiness” —the right to
seek prosperity and to further our well-being; an indelible reminder of our responsibility
to provide opportunities to all.

The following is my plan to make New York more affordable, competitive, and efficient,
while ensuring our state fosters true social mobility.

Reforming and Rightsizing New York’s
Economic Development Programs
A 2017 report from the nonpartisan W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, found that New
York State’s economic development programs were the most expensive in the nation.20 Further analysis
by the Citizens Budget Commission found that “when compared to the 10 largest states by population,
economic development incentives cost New York as much as the next 3 states combined.”21 New York’s
expansive and expensive economic development efforts require state and local development agencies,
authorities, and other entities to distribute direct grants, tax credits, property tax abatements, and
other incentives to select industries. Such an approach fosters a purely transactional relationship where
corporate interests must use their influence to gain direct material benefit and political donations are a
prerequisite to gaining state support.
Value of Economic Development Incentives as a Percentage of Value-Added

Source: Timothy J. Bartik, A New Panel Database on Business Incentives for Economic Development Offered by
State and Local Governments in the United States (W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, 2017, p. 59.)67
From the Ground Up

New York State’s incentive-based model of economic development is not only susceptible to corruption,
it is wildly inefficient and ineffective. One report found:
“ statistically significant association between economic development
incentives per capita and average wages or incomes; none between
incentives and college grads or knowledge workers; and none between
incentives and the state unemployment rate.”22

It would be a feat of human innovation to think of something more inefficient than allocating nearly $30
billion over a six year period with little to no appreciable effect.

The real problem with poorly utilizing nearly $30 billion dollars, besides wasting an exorbitant amount
of taxpayer dollars, is that it represents a significant opportunity cost—tens of billions of dollars of roads
not taken. Take for example the concept of the Regional Economic Development Councils: Flawed as
they are, the councils represent a vehicle to bring together regional partners to identify goals, training/
education needs, and strategies to promote. This vehicle could be used to help spur the economy
and increase employment, but sadly it is saddled with a state-level strategy focused heavily on direct
incentives and drawing in business from outside of New York State. What are these councils capable of
with a greater focus on growing existing regional industries, utilizing evidence-based strategies, and
setting/tracking measurable outcomes?

It is clear that a new, more transparent, effective, and efficient model is desperately needed. I firmly
believe we can do more while spending less; we just need to reorient our system to focus on New
York’s strengths. There is no need for a new large-scale program or throwing the proverbial baby out
with the bath water. Instead we need to reassess our goals, current policies, and overarching strategy
and commit ourselves to programs that actually work; but that may not lend themselves to the ribbon
cuttings and other vapid fanfare enabled by the current paradigm. The roots of a solid system are here,
hidden under poorly designed policies, misguided goals, corruption, and poor leadership.

Ensure Transparency and Greater Oversight
Before spending another dollar on economic development, we must enact the provisions included
in the “Albany Accountability Act” to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent in an ethical and transparent
manner. These provisions include:

• Creating a “Database of Deals” that allows individuals to search all State subsidy and economic
development benefits.
• Creating a Unified Economic Development Budget.
• Restoring the Office of the State Comptroller’s (OSC) independent oversight of SUNY, the
City University of New York (CUNY), and the Office of General Services (OGS) centralized
• Requiring State authorities to adopt procurement guidelines that are consistent with those
required for State agencies, unless otherwise permitted by law.
• Prohibiting the use of State-affiliated not-for-profit (NFP) entities for State contracting unless
explicitly authorized by law or if approved by the State Comptroller.
From the Ground Up

• Require State officials to recuse themselves from any conflict of interest in writing and require
State Agency and Authority officials to attest in writing that there was no undue influence
exerted on them during the procurement process.
• Require Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) members to receive good
governance training from the Authorities Budget Office.
The full Albany Accountability Act can be found here:

Focus on Outcomes Over Actions and People over Places
The State’s economic development entity—Empire State Development—“failed to meet more than half
of the statutorily mandated outcome reporting requirements for the programs that it managed during
the period April 1, 2012 through September 30, 2016.”23 Most REDC strategic plans and reports fail to
detail clear measurable outcomes and little to nothing is done at the state level in the way of tracking
and program evaluation. Even when some semblance of outcome tracking is done, it overwhelmingly
shows a state spinning its wheels. Riley Edwards of the Citizens Budget Commission sums it up perfectly:
“Where data do exist, it is clear that many of the state’s economic
development efforts are not worth their high cost. The $15 million film
hub and $105 million high-tech factory in and around Syracuse and
$250 million photonics consortium in Rochester have struggled to meet
expectations. The film hub sits mostly empty; the factory, originally built
for a tenant that walked away from the deal, required an additional subsidy
to attract another tenant; and the photonics consortium has faced repeated
delays. The Film Tax Credit remains the largest economic development
tax expenditure, despite growing evidence that such tax credits are not
effective. The regional economic development councils continue to award
funding to each region to much fanfare each year, but in several regions,
investments in the councils’ prioritized industries have failed to translate
into significant employment gains.”24

Accountability and transparency must be injected into the system. Reporting and tracking outcomes
should be prioritized ahead of appearing active. Result should be the driving force behind our policies
not press releases.

New York State must no longer confuse actions with outcomes. We can no longer incentivize business
on the basis of promises. When providing direct incentives, including tax breaks, it must be done after
clear evidence of real outcomes and commitment to New York. Outcomes must be tracked to enable a
full and thorough vetting of what does and does not work. The Citizens Budget Commission proposed
critical reforms to address these issues in their report “A Blueprint for Economic Development Reform,”

• Standardizing Metrics Across All Economic Development Initiatives - Every economic
development program run or overseen by New York State should use standardized definitions
and measurements including “annual actual results (such as current jobs compared to jobs
when the incentive began) and results against planned performance” which “differentiate
between full-time jobs, part-time jobs, and temporary jobs, including construction jobs.”
Further the CBC recommends Empire State Development track outcomes for the economic

From the Ground Up

regions “including but not limited
to growth in targeted industries,
overall economic growth, and “New Yorker’s
changes in poverty levels.” deserve more for
• Providing Benefits Retroactively their investment
- Incentives should be provided on
the basis of actual performance not than multi-million
projections, and only after there is
meaningful private investment. dollar flops.”
• Imposing Clear and Strict
Eligibility Criteria - Eligibility
criteria should be clearly delineated
in statute when practicable (e.g. As
of Right Tax Credits that benefit
“firms that meet predetermined
requirements set in statute”); and
projects where funding provides
little to no value-added should
be excluded (e.g. “New York
City’s central business district
and businesses that cannot easily
relocate, such as big-box stores
and self-storage facilities”).

• Funding the Best Projects -
REDC funding should be provided
to the highest scoring projects
statewide, not just those in the “winning” regions.

• Establishing a Regular Review Process - Review current spending, including tax benefits,
to ensure they are effective and include automatic sunset provisions to force an examination
of the efficacy of such benefits by independent evaluators.25
I believe these reforms are necessary to create an efficient and effective economic development system.

Incentives should be tightly controlled and only used to leverage high multiplier investments; the
core of our economic development programs should focus on people. Incentive heavy programs are
highly excludable, often focusing on narrow regions or specific cities (e.g. Buffalo Billion). Our economic
development efforts should strive to provide public goods like improved infrastructure and industry
driven training. Policies and investments that put people at the center not places should be our primary
goal. This could mean helping businesses obtain needed credentials for employees, tracking workforce
investments and outcomes, expanding apprenticeship programs, supporting Boards of Cooperative
Educational Services (BOCES), expanding broadband, etc. At the center of all of these examples are
people: employees, small business owners, educators, and job-seekers. A business can pack up and
leave, but a newly built bridge, a well-educated workforce, or an expansive career training apparatus
are stable assets capable of generating sustained economic growth.

From the Ground Up

Target Local Businesses and Startups with the Potential for Growth
A recent report from Timothy J. Bartik of Upjohn
Institute found that supporting small to medium
sized local business with the potential to grow is
one of the most cost efficient means to increase
employment and grow the economy.26 Local
business tend to have local supply chains and

support other local businesses. This means that
for every dollar used to support a local business, a
portion of that dollar is supporting a host of other
local businesses, thereby multiplying the impact
of the incentive or support. This impact is even of new jobs are
greater when focused on export-based businesses,
as these types of businesses have less local created by existing
competition, and therefore the obvious drawbacks
of supporting one firm at the expense of another
are mitigated. Additionally, the Center on Budget
and Policy Priorities found that “home-grown
jobs contribute more than 80 percent of total job
creation in every state” and when the United States
economy is performing well, startups and fast-
growing firms drive job creation.27

One of the most interesting and informing findings of the Upjohn Institute Report was the effectiveness
and efficiency in supporting local small- to medium-sized businesses by providing customized
business services. The report found that “Customized business services such as specialized job training
and manufacturing extension can be 10 times as effective as tax incentives in creating local jobs.”28
Customized services and other efficient services identified in this report include:

• customized job training—often provided by community colleges and tailored to the firm’s
• manufacturing extension services—advice on improving technology, productivity, and sales;
• small business development centers;
• entrepreneurial training; and
• business incubators.
New York State currently provides many of these services, but with a greater emphasis on these strategies
which have a positive return on investment, local economies, businesses, and job seekers could benefit
even more.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report identified startups and small fast-growing businesses
as major job creators and possible targets for economic development efforts. Customized business
services and the other services listed above could provide the necessary support to take advantage of
these high return targets by helping firms access new markets, capital, and skilled-workers. In addition,
many cities and other municipalities, including Dutchess County, are investing in startup or innovation
From the Ground Up

ecosystems that provide new startups with access to mentors/expertise, existing science and technology
resources, local/regional industries with which to partner for mutual benefit, educational/training
opportunities, and private funding. This approach should be more widely supported by New York State.

In light of the report’s findings, it may also be extremely beneficial to create tax-advantaged growth
savings accounts for our prospective and existing small business owners. Such accounts would operate
similarly to 529 college savings accounts, and would allow prospective and existing small business
owners to make tax-deductible contributions to a growth savings accounts that would grow in value
over time. The prospective small business owner -- whether it be a dishwasher saving to one day own
the restaurant or a mechanic saving to one day own the auto body shop -- would be incentivized to
save his or her money in order to one day start a small business here in New York, and in a decade would
have start-up capital for his or her first lease, first truck, inventory, or equipment. The existing small
business owner would be incentivized to save his or her money in order to create a capital cushion to
meet the future needs of his or her business -- whether it be weathering a downturn, expanding a fleet
of trucks, moving to a larger location, or investing in new equipment. Under the current regime, both
prospective and existing small business owners are at the mercy of commercial lenders, who invariably
require mountains of paperwork and oftentimes sit hundreds of miles away from the businesses for
which they review loan applications. By forcing our small business community to rely on commercial
loans, prospective small business owners often times never get off the ground because they fail to meet
the onerous lending requirements; and our existing small businesses are forced to suffer under the
burden of increased debt-service, which diminishes profits and revenues.

As with any policy, adopting the efforts enumerated above should be coupled with clearly defined goals
and must produce measurable outcomes. We must follow the data and we will find it leads to a bottom
up approach focused on local employers, small businesses, and support services.

Diversify Decision-making to Ensure Greater Local Control
One of the many problems with the economic development schemes of the Cuomo Administration is
the way that the Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) score project proposals. While the
Governor likes to claim that this is a ground up process, the current scoring of project proposals only
gives the local regional councils 20 percent of the weighted grade, while Empire State Development,
which is controlled by the Administration, makes 80 percent of the
decision. This imbalance allows the Governor to claim that he is
valuing the opinions of local communities, while actually maintaining
top down control from Albany.
“...this [reform]
To ensure that the needs of local communities are appropriately
taken into account, as Governor, I will reform any future spending of will ensure that
the REDCS to give the local councils a 50 percent say in evaluating
projects. This will ensure that local voices are heard, and that the local voices are
best and most impactful projects are identified by those who know heard...”
best what their communities need. The Senate Majority proposed
this change as part of their One House Budget this past year, and I
would include it in my first Executive Budget.

From the Ground Up

Building a Dynamic and Skilled Workforce to
Close the Middle-Skills Gap
According to a recent survey of Upstate business leaders by the Siena College Research Institute, the
number of employers who cite “human resources” as a concern grew 80 percent from 2012 through
2017 (from 24 percent to 43 percent).29 When asked to rate the suitable workforce available in their
local area, over half, 52 percent, of the business leaders rated their area as fair or poor, with 72 percent
believing the technical skills of the workforce in New York State are a somewhat or very significant
problem.30 Unfortunately, if New York State continues on its current path, this is a problem that will
only get worse.

Jobs and Workers by Skill Level

Low-Skill Workers

Low-Skill Jobs

Middle-Skill Workers

Middle-Skill Jobs

High-Skill Wokers

High-Skill Jobs

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%

Source: NSC analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Employment
Statistics by State, May 2015 and American Community Survey data, 2015.68

As the National Skills Coalition points out, demand for middle-skill jobs (those that require more than a
high school education, but less than a four-year degree) in New York is high, with these jobs accounting
for 50 percent of New York’s labor market in 2015.31 Unfortunately, only 38 percent of New York’s
workers were trained to the middle-skill level in the same year.32 This is something New York must
address, as the demand will remain strong with an estimated 45 percent of job openings from 2014-
2024 being middle-skill.33

The State must begin to rethink how we train the workforce in the 21st Century. Recent articles have
cited how major employers are looking to hire more workers with hands-on experience, and are not
looking “exclusively at candidates who went to college” when making their hiring decisions.34 If New
York is to become more competitive in this new environment, and if we want to ensure young New
Yorkers can build their careers and families in our State, it is time for us to make a dramatic shift in how
we are preparing them to enter the workforce. If we do this right, New York State (both Upstate and
Downstate) will attract more businesses and create more jobs than ever before.

From the Ground Up

As your Governor, I will completely redesign our workforce development strategies by:

• Bolstering Regional Sector Partnerships
• Centralizing and Expanding Apprenticeship Efforts
• Strengthening Career & Technical Education
Bolstering Regional Sector Partnerships
Governor Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs) have been sold to New Yorkers
as a “ground-up strategy” that allows for each region to make their own decisions when designing their
economic development strategy. As previously discussed, this program has turned into a top-down
decision making process that has produced an annual event where funding for projects is announced in
a game-show like fashion, and has lead to the indictment of many of the Governor’s closest confidantes
who used the system to benefit themselves and their friends. This is not conducive to growing our
economy and building a pipeline of workers for companies already struggling to stay afloat in an
overtaxed and over-regulated New York State.

One way to attract companies to New York, and keep existing companies in the State, without using
targeted social welfare is by building a pipeline of skilled workers through Sector Partnerships. As
defined by the National Skills Coalition, “Sector partnerships bring together multiple employers
within an industry to collaborate with colleges, schools, labor, workforce agencies, community
organizations and other community stakeholders to align training with the skills needed for
that industry to grow and compete.”35 The Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
(WIOA), enacted in 2014, required States to submit a plan that outlined, “ a four-year strategy for the
State’s workforce development system.”36 Within that plan, WIOA required each state to explain how
it would meet the workforce needs and meet the goals of sector partners.37 In 2016, New York’s Draft
Combined State Plan included a paragraph on how the State planned to make sector partnerships
a priority by having the State Workforce Investment Board implement “state-level initiatives around
sector partnerships.”38 Unfortunately, as the latest information by the National Skills Coalition points
out, New York has lagged behind other states and still did not have a sector partnership policy in place
as of October 2017.39

As Governor, I will implement a new State-level Empire State Sector Partnership Assistance Program
to bolster sector partnerships by utilizing the recommendations of the National Skills Coalition to
provide funding, technical assistance, and program initiatives. Details of this program include:

ለለ Funding: Use Federal WIOA funds to provide grants to assist with planning and
implementation activities and for convening and staffing sector partnership meetings.
ለለ Technical Assistance: Create a Sector Partnership Advisory Committee made up of state
agencies, not-for-profits, and workforce development entities to provide guidance
and assistance to sector partnerships with navigating available government assistance
ለለ Program Initiatives: Modeled after Tennessee’s Labor Education Alignment Program
(LEAP), establish a grant program that helps to create industry-specific alignment of
local workforce needs with the curriculum of higher education institutions.40

From the Ground Up

Centralizing and Expanding Apprenticeship Efforts
According to a recent survey by the New York Association of Training & Employment Professionals
(NYATEP), respondents stated their top workforce challenge was “recruiting and hiring a skilled
workforce.” 41 Surprisingly, only 11 out of the 114 targeted businesses used New York’s Apprenticeship
Program. Of the 103 employers not using the program:

• 60 percent believed navigating the regulations to be very challenging or challenging; and
• 55 percent believed the volume of paperwork required to register to be very challenging or
These results show that New York must simplify a process that serves to help both employees and
employers, and advances New York’s economy into the new global age. In order to do this, I will:

• Create a new centralized website ( that will simplify the process of matching
potential apprentices and employers. The website will serve as a central hub for employers,
workforce development agencies, not-
for-profits, and potential apprentices,
and be a single source with all available
information related to apprenticeships
and all workforce development
While New York must simplify the process, we
also must expand our efforts to ensure those who
are looking to enter the workforce have greater
options to do so. Our high school students
currently have the opportunity to engage in various
work-based learning programs, and our Boards of
Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) offer
numerous valuable training programs that help
prepare students with skills to enter the workforce.
Unfortunately, these programs are not always
offered on a statewide basis, sometimes have an
unfair stigma attached to them, and often include
barriers that prevent some students from taking

To support the vital career pathway, I will:

• Implement new youth apprenticeship programs, in concert with local employers, in our high
schools that will design a curriculum tailored specifically to train future employees with the
skills needed to fill positions in a designated industry.
ለለ Depending on the major industries of each individual region, this program will allow
localities to design their individual programs in a way that allows students to take part in
apprenticeship programs in a diverse number of fields.
ለለ Information on each new program will be easily accessible on the new apprentice

From the Ground Up

• Utilize our new Sector Partnership Program to work with workforce development agencies,
educational institutions, small businesses, and others to design programs that will create a
pipeline of future employees who want to stay and build careers in their local region.

Strengthen Career & Technical Education Programs
In recent years, strides have been made to increase the number and quality of career and technical
education (CTE) programs, as well as open up graduation credentials for students interested in being
involved in these programs. The Board of Regents made needed changes to credentials such as allowing
all students to Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential,
creating a Career and Technical Education Endorsement for local and Regents diplomas, and altering
diploma pathways to provide students with the opportunity to engage in more career and technical
education. The New York State Pathways in Technology Early College High Schools (NYS P-TECH) provide
a “six-year program that combines high school, college, and career training and targets academically
at-risk, disadvantaged students.” These reforms and programs represent a great deal of progress, but
more can be done.

CTE programs are valuable for two main reasons:

1. They help prepare students for careers in high demand fields; and
2. They have a demonstrable impact on academic achievement and college readiness.
A recent report from Shaun Daugherty of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, found that:

• “Students with greater exposure to CTE are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll
in a two-year college, be employed, and earn higher wages.
• CTE is not a path away from college: Students taking more CTE classes are just as likely to
pursue a four-year degree as their peers.
• Students who focus their CTE coursework are more likely to graduate high school by twenty-
one percentage points compared to otherwise similar students (and they see a positive impact
on other outcomes as well).
• CTE provides the greatest boost to the kids who need it most—boys, and students from low-
income families.”43
These finding exemplify the immense potential of quality CTE programs. Quality is key though and we
must ensure New York’s programs are performing at a high level. To ensure the success of students in
CTE programs, it is imperative to:

• Require the education community and industry partners to work collaboratively to align CTE
programs with learning and industry standards to ensure the courses are rigorous and current
with typical industry practices.
• Ensure CTE programs are focused on high-need skills and growing industries. Work
collaboratively with local government authorities, sector partners, and businesses to identify
such skills and industries.

From the Ground Up

• As suggested by the Educational Conference Board, increase the “number of CTE programs
with technical assessments recognized and approved by the State Education Department
(SED).”44 According to the Board, the 30 technical assessments approved by SED “impact just
157 of the approximately 1,000 CTE programs in the state and 0.6 percent of the 166,200 high
school students enrolled in CTE.”45 Students looking to take advantage of the 4+1 Diploma
Pathway require an approved assessment to substitute for the fifth Regents exam.
• Another suggestion of the Educational Conference Board is to develop “systems for collecting
valid, reliable data necessary to drive continuous improvements and create new educational
opportunities for students, while protecting pupil and staff privacy.”46
• Ensure there is proper support in CTE programs for students with disabilities and English
Language Learners (ELL).
• Support and expand dual enrollment opportunities that allow students to gain college credit
or industry/professional credentials.
• Work with community colleges and four-year universities to ensure students in CTE programs
can smoothly transition to higher education institutions.
• Increase flexibility of diploma pathways that support CTE and explore creating a combined
Regents high school diploma and associate’s degree.
We also must support our longstanding institutions that support the CTE mission. BOCES provide
students with the opportunity to participate in valuable career and technical programs and offer a
myriad workforce development programs. What many may not know is the impact these programs
have on students, in the 2016-17 school year “nearly 95 percent of BOCES CTE seniors graduated.”47 Of

these students 56 percent went onto college and
34 percent joined the workforce. Yet too often the
support for these programs is not enough and there
is a stigma associated with BOCES due to a dated
and inappropriate negative view of “vocational”
education. This stigma keeps far too many students
from taking advantage of the amazing programs
that BOCES have to offer. To address this problem, I
support the passage of A.2801 which would rename Graduation rate for high-school seniors
BOCES -- Career Prep Centers with the objective of enrolled in BOCES Career and Technical
reinforcing the positive results that BOCES services
provide to our students and workforce. Additionally,
Education Programs
I support increasing the aidable salaries of BOCES
CTE teachers “that qualify for reimbursement from
the 1990 level of $30,000.”48

In addition to these proposal, other efforts related to improving CTE programs and/or workforce training
are worthy of consideration and exploration, including:

• Expanding new and existing P-Tech programs;
• Launching a statewide campaign to highlight the benefits of CTE;
• Requiring CTE coursework for secondary school students;

From the Ground Up

• Increasing adult education funding especially to support literacy, mathematics skills, and
adult English language learners;
• Integrating CTE and workforce training into adult education by supporting bridge programs
such as “The Bridge to College and Careers program at LaGuardia Community College, which
prepares students to pass their high school equivalency exams by teaching math and literacy
coursework in the context of healthcare, science, or business”49 ; and
• Creating a statewide clearinghouse for workforce data that would allow individuals to research
in demand skills/careers and track the success of workforce development programs.

Creating an “Environment of Growth”
The Tax Foundation currently ranks New York’s business tax climate 48th in the nation.50 As empty
facilities, shuttered businesses, and shattered communities across our state attest, this represents a
looming and present disaster. It is no exaggeration to say that the future viability of New York requires
that we take bold steps now to foster an environment that is more conducive to growth. Growth will
not only benefit New York’s businesses and economy, it will vastly improve the opportunities of those
looking for a job and those in search of a better job. It is often said that a rising tide lifts all ships. As we
work to improve the fortunes of New York, we must ensure that all residents, regions, and sectors grow
together, rise as one, and move forward united and prosperous.

Improve New York’s 48th-Ranked Business Tax Climate
The Empire State Freedom Plan included proposals that would provide over $17 billion in annual tax
savings and cost avoidance when fully phased-in. The plan included proposals to:

• Make the two-percent property tax cap permanent;
• Extend the tax cap to New York City homeowners;
• Takeover the local-share of Medicaid;
• Enact a statutory State Spending Cap;
• Put in place a ban on state tax increases without a supermajority vote of the Legislature;
• Establish the Unfunded Mandate and Cost Reduction Commission;
• Require broad and sustained mandate relief;
• Mandate true fiscal impact statements for any agency, department or legislative business
regulation or mandate;
• Expand zero-percent tax rate to all manufacturers;
• Aid middle class families negatively impacted by federal tax changes;
• Index personal income tax brackets;
• Reform energy taxes;
• Provide relief for small businesses adjusting to the increasing minimum wage; and
From the Ground Up

• Implement new and equitable tax assessment system in New York City that ends the unfairly
high tax burden on working class New Yorkers.
To view the entire plan, visit:

Reduce the Regulatory Burden
According to George Mason University’s
Mercatus Center, “It would take an individual

about 1,250 hours—or over 31 weeks—to read
the entire NYCRR” assuming that person was
reading at a rate of 300 words per minute for 40
hours a week.51 The reams of regulations not
only clutter law office bookshelves, they weigh
on the mind of business leaders. According Of Upstate business leaders cite
to a Siena College survey, 68 percent of
Upstate business leaders cite regulations as a
regulations as a concern
concern and 57 percent believe governmental
regulation will only get worse.52

To address the volume of regulations, many of them ineffective and/or inefficient, I propose the
creation of the Governmental Regulation Reduction Commission (GRRC), modeled on the federal
Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) to evaluate regulations placed on businesses and
other entities. After identifying and evaluating the costs, benefits, and effectiveness of each significant
mandate, the Commission will have the authority to propose amendments to and elimination of
ineffective and inefficient rules and regulations. Any recommendations that require a statutory change
of any kind would be placed before the Legislature for an up or down vote. The Commission shall be
composed of appointees from both the executive and legislative branches and shall also: examine any
proposed rule or regulation to determine their impact and effectiveness; conduct periodical sunset
reviews to determine the need of certain governmental functions; and address occupational licensing
issues as discussed in a later section (see section on Occupational Licensing Reform).

One process the Commission should immediately review is the State Environmental Quality Review Act
(SEQR). This planning and zoning law, although well intentioned, can create delays and present obstacles
which prevent needed growth and development. SEQR is broadly defined covering potential impacts to
both the environment and/or the community’s character. The process can be long, unpredictable, and
expansive. The Empire Center proposed the following SEQR reforms:

• Adopting binding time limits to curtail the length of the process which can kill projects,
especially those undertaken by smaller developers. Specifically the Empire Center proposes
“the SEQR process for any project is completed within 300 days, or about 10 months, from
start to finish.”

• Mandating a “scoping” process that results “in a definitive list of environmental impacts
to be considered in the EIS [Environmental Impact Statement]” thereby increasing the
predictability of the process and eliminate any last-minute changes conjured up by the lead

• Relying on local laws and ordinances for determining a project’s impact on “existing
From the Ground Up

neighborhood and community character.” This would not only provide for greater local
control, but also constrict any expansive or unfair requirements based on broadly defined
impacts to “existing neighborhood and community character.”53
In addition to the creation of the GRRC, I support bipartisan legislation (S.5912-C/A.8470) to reform
the issuance of emergency regulations. In the last decade, almost two thirds of all new regulations and
rules were issued through emergency procedures, which means that the public has no opportunity to
comment on proposed rules and regulations, and businesses are left with no time to adapt to regulatory
change. This proposal would ensure that emergency regulations are only allowed at such times where
public health and safety are at risk, there is a clear risk to the environment, compliance with federal or
state law requires swift action, and/or delay would result in a loss of federal funds.

Revitalizing New York’s Critical Infrastructure
In addition to reforming the taxation and regulatory systems of New York Stater, another critical
component that must be addressed in order to make New York more competitive is the revitalization
of the State’s infrastructure. Businesses simply cannot grow in places with more infrastructure, and
unfortunately, this is yet another area in which New York lags behind most other states. In order to
address this critical need, I propose taking the following steps:

Utilize Non-Recurring Revenue for Locally Identified Infrastructure Projects
When local officials asked Governor Cuomo to use the over $10 billion dollars that the State has received
from legal settlements since 2014 on vital infrastructure projects, the Governor responded by saying,
“Show us how you will become economically stronger and create jobs. Then you will fix your own

This kind of thinking clearly illustrates the Photo by: Hector A. Diaz @beacon_transplant
Governor’s lack of understanding on what actually
leads to economic success, which is part of the
reason that Upstate is still struggling after eight
years of the Cuomo administration. Quality
infrastructure is vitally important for an economy “By investing in
to succeed. If a business is not certain that their
water will work tomorrow, why would they locate infrastructure, we can
in that area? Instead of wasting taxpayer’s hard
earned dollars on corporate giveaways, often to build an enviornment
well connected donors to Governor Cuomo, we
should focus on improving local infrastructure. for businesses to grow
In my Empire State Freedom Plan, I pledged that and thrive.”
I would reform the way we use settlement funds
that the State receives for infrastructure and
nonrecurring costs. I reiterate this pledge, and
take it one step further: No less than one-third -Marc Molinaro
of all settlement funds received by New York will
be used to pay for locally identified infrastructure
projects to ensure that the infrastructure problems
From the Ground Up

our municipalities face are addressed, which will, in turn, help to make them attractive options for
businesses looking for a new home.

Protect Brownfield Investment Program
New York’s Brownfield Investment Program is one of the most impactful economic development
programs that State currently has, as it provides the resources necessary for the private sector to
remediate and redevelop brownfields. This program is especially important in Upstate New York, where
so many former industrial sites are located.

In Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget this year, he proposed deferring the Brownfield Tax credit, which
would have delayed the credit for three years. This would have brought current projects to a halt, which
would have had a significant detrimental effect on the Upstate economy. This credit deferral would also
have further contributed to New York’s poor business climate, like any business who was taken actions
based on trusting New York State to follow through on the comments the State has made to businesses.
While this proposal was rejected by the Republican Majority in the State Senate, it is vitally important
that we ensure that the State honors the commitments that it has made to businesses, and protects
the few components of the State’s economic development policies that work, especially the Brownfield
Investment Program.

It is worth pointing out that the Film Tax Credit, which benefits an industry that has heavily donated to
Governor Cuomo, was not included in his proposed credit deferment.

Restart the Pataki-Era, Shovel-Ready program
One of the most successful economic development programs that New York has had in recent decades
was the “Shovel Ready” program that was created during the Pataki Administration. This program
helped to prepare sites for future development by taking actions such as conducting environmental
reviews and establishing hook ups for sewers and electricity. This drastically reduced the amount of
time it would take a business to build on a site, which removed barriers for business expansion in New
York. These pre-build projects do not need to be done for specific businesses thereby limiting the
potential for impropriety.

Create a “Dig-Once” Grant Assistance Program, to Install Broadband Lines in
Underserved Areas
Another step that the Empire State Development Corporation should take is the creation of a “Dig-
Once” grant program to incentivize the installation of broadband lines when other infrastructure work
is being done. The primary benefit of dig once programs, as stated by the R-Street Institute is “rather
than having to tear up roads every time a company wants to add new wires, cables or fiber, infrastructure
planners would require conduits be built large enough so that later providers could draw their wires
through those pre-existing conduits.”54 This would help to ensure that better broadband service is
expanded in the most efficient way possible, which would provide a major economic boost to the areas
of the State, such as the Southern Tier and the North Country, that currently lack reliable high speed
internet access.

From the Ground Up

Rewarding Work and Eliminating Barriers to
Work promotes independence, security, and personal responsibility. Therefore, the decrease in labor
force participation rates, especially among working-age men is troubling. Consider “from 1996 to 2016,
the share of prime-age men either working or actively looking for work decreased from 91.8 percent to
88.6 percent.”55 We need a comprehensive response that seeks to reward work and reduce barriers to

Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit
The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), a refundable tax credit provided to low-wage workers, is a triumph
of considered, well designed public policy. It is touted as one of, if not the most, important and successful
anti-poverty measures ever devised -- responsible for increasing work rates, reducing poverty rates,
supporting families, and providing a number of additional positive effects (e.g. academic achievement
and improved health outcomes).56

Building on the success of the EITC, 29 states and Washington D.C. offer state EITC benefits based on
the percentage of a filer’s federal EITC. New York State began offering this benefit in 1994, starting at
7.5 percent of the federal credit; it has since been increased six times to reach the current 30 percent
level.57 These credits truly build on the success of the federal credit. A recent study by the University of
New Hampshire’s Casey School of Public Policy found that:
EITC programs in Washington, DC; New York; and Vermont reduce child
poverty by more than a full percentage point, or proportional reductions
of 4.3 percent, 8.3 percent, and 10.2 percent, respectively, due to their EITC

The results of a 2008 study, funded in part by the Office of Temporary Disability Assistance, on the
benefits of expanding New York State’s EITC benefit, are summarized as follows:
These results clearly demonstrate that expanding state EITC supplements
will significantly increase the labor force participation of single mothers,
increase the total income of low-income families, and reduce their risk of

It is time to further build on the success of this program by increasing the benefit and expanding
eligibility. I propose:

• Increasing the State EITC Benefit to 35 Percent of the Federal Credit - New York offers
one of the most generous benefits in the country, yet there is no evidence that the state’s
EITC benefit has hit a point of diminishing returns. Increasing the benefit to 35 percent of the
federal credit will only help encourage work, support families, and reduce poverty.

• Expanding EITC Eligibility for Childless Workers and Examining Additional Reforms
to Increase Access and Efficacy - The federal EITC primarily targets custodial parents. Yet

From the Ground Up

there is a strong rationale for expanding the credit to provide additional benefits to childless
workers and non-custodial parents. At one point, both President Obama and Speaker Ryan
had nearly identical proposals to expand EITC benefits for non-dependents without children.
In 2006, New York State began offering an enhanced EITC for qualifying non-custodial parents,
but the program helps only a small number of individuals. Montana and Washington D.C.
have both implemented larger and broader benefits for childless workers.60
I suggest New York offer an expanded benefit for childless workers and non-custodial
parents. As governor, I will task the Department of Taxation in Finance and the Office of
Temporary Disability Assistance to form a working group to produce recommendations on
expanding eligibility to the state’s EITC benefit. This working group would be encouraged to
look to New York City’s Paycheck Plus pilot program, which is testing the effects of offering
increased EITC benefits to childless workers. So far, the program has produced increases in
employment, income, child support payments, and tax filing.61 After completing its primary
task, the workgroup would be directed to examine ways to increase the positive effects of the
EITC benefit (e.g. installment payments, benefit cliff issues, addressing the shrinking value of
the credit in light of recent changes to the minimum wage, etc.).

Occupational Licensing Reform
Occupational licensing is a barrier that
hinders people from finding work and
building a career. We can all agree
that certain occupations should be
regulated -- physicians, nurses, home
inspectors, and emergency medical
technicians are all professions that
need to be licensed as a matter of
public safety. Unfortunately, these are
not the only type of tightly regulated
occupations. Consider that over 20
percent of New York’s workforce
is licensed by the State.62 There is a
whole category of occupations with
minimal impact on public health and
safety that have onerous and counter-
intuitive barriers, including, but not
limited to: cosmetologists, barbers,
interior decorators, and manicurists.
These careers are entry points to the middle class and offer the possibility of entrepreneurship. Removing
or reducing these barriers could provide countless New Yorkers with new job opportunities, foster social
mobility, aid in the growth of the middle class, eliminate the disproportionate impact on lower-income
individuals, and reduce costs for consumers.

Burdensome occupational licensing requirements have been identified as barriers to economic growth
and freedom by policymakers and researchers at the American Enterprise Institute, Manhattan Institute,
Brookings Institution, National Bureau for Economic Research, National Center for Policy Analysis,
Cato Institute, and the Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies. Editorials in the New York Times,
FiveThirtyEight, and the National Review, just to name a few very ideologically diverse sources, have
From the Ground Up

bemoaned the obstacles posed by irrational occupational licensing standards. A policy consensus has
coalesced bringing together both liberal and conservative policy experts.

Research to date on a broad range of occupations provide little evidence that government licenses
protect public health and safety or improve the quality of products or services. Instead, a greater body
of research indicates that occupational licenses increase consumer costs, restrict growth, and reduce
opportunities for workers, particularly minorities, those with less education, and older workers looking
to switch careers.

I propose that the Governmental Regulation Reduction Commission (GRRC), as proposed in the
Reduce Regulatory Barriers section, shall also be charged with, among other tasks, reviewing occupational
licensing requirements and providing recommendations for reductions in regulations or elimination of
requirements to the Legislature for an up or down vote. The use of such a commission is necessary
to ensure the focus and independence necessary to produce meaningful results based on relevant
facts, not outside influence. The GRRC would also be responsible for reviewing any new requirements
or alterations to any existing licensing requirements. The Commission’s review of current and future
licensing requirements will consist of a thorough cost-benefit analysis conducted as follows:
“The burden should be on the government together with the associations
representing the occupation to demonstrate that the social benefits of
these requirements exceed the economic costs. If the benefits to the public
exceed the costs, governments and professional associations should also
demonstrate that the proposed regulations are the least restrictive means
of furthering the goals of the regulations.”63

We should be rolling out the red carpet for those seeking to start a business, build a career, or find a
job, eliminating unnecessary licensing requirements is a step toward a freer, fairer economy.

New York is in desperate need of changes to address lagging economic trends and to promote
opportunity. Our state motto is one word - Excelsior (ever upward) - which is a testament to our history
as a national leader, but also a call to action to grow, inspire and provide hope. We must embrace this
word and all that it means and strive to make New York a leader in opportunity, innovation, and growth.
This plan offers a new vision - one which focuses on the people of this state and how government can
best serve their interests. As we move forward we must consider additional factors as we continue to
shape and reshape the future of New York, including:

• Restricting the Use of Non-Compete Agreements and Anti-Poaching Arrangements
- Research has revealed that some large employers are exercising their power in such a way to
“contribute to wage stagnation, rising inequality, and declining productivity in the American
economy; trends which have hit low-income workers especially hard.”64 Arrangements like
non-compete agreements and anti-poaching arrangements should be prohibited for low-
wage workers. These agreements or arrangements are inherently anti-opportunity and restrict
basic individual economic freedom.

From the Ground Up

• Increasing Community College Completion Rates - Obtaining a postsecondary degree
or credential “provides a gateway to higher average earnings and opens up career pathways
for graduates, while higher completion rates help strengthen the American workforce.”65 To
meet this goal, New York State should explore:
ለለ implementing expectancy-value interventions that help connect student’s coursework
with their lives;
ለለ expanding guided pathway approaches such as the City of New York’s successful
Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP); and
ለለ continuing to invest in SUNY and CUNY’s Investment and Performance Fund to fund
innovative intervention and programs aimed at boosting completion rates.
• Increasing Academic Counseling - Programs like CUNY’s ASAP or the Higher Education
Opportunity program significantly boost completion rates and achievement rates of
participants. These programs implement intensive academic counseling and advisement.
Improving and expanding academic counseling services to a wider cross-section of students
could have an appreciable impact on completion rates.

• Reducing the Cost of Higher Education -
For far too many students, the cost of attending
college prohibits attending or finishing college.
We must work not only to provide students
with financial aid, but to reduce the underlying
structural cost driving up college tuition. Purdue
University has been able to successfully swim
against the current of rising higher education
costs by making strategic budget cuts and
finding efficiencies. This has been achieved
under the strong leadership of the University’s
President, Mitch Daniels. New York State should
explore ways to incentivize the world-class
higher education leaders throughout the state-
supported university systems to cut costs and
pass the savings onto students. Purdue was able
to freeze tuition producing considerable savings
for students and families.

• Increasing Access to Advanced Placement
Courses - It was found that “if a student lived in a suburban, wealthy school district in
New York state last year, her chances of attending a school with six or more Advanced
Placement or International Baccalaureate classes were greater than 90 percent.”66 We must
make a concerted effort to provide more students with access to Advanced Placement and
International Baccalaureate coursework since rigorous academic classes engage students
and prepare them for higher education.

• Supporting Public Transportation - In my previously released plan to address the
Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) myriad issues, I proposed providing funding
to extend New York City’s fair program, which provides access to half-price Metrocards for
individuals living below 200 percent of the federal poverty line, thereby doubling the number

From the Ground Up

of individuals eligible (1.6 million), according to a Community Service Society report. To see
the full Back on Track plan, visit:

• Eliminating Benefit Cliffs - There are cases when individuals and families forgo employment,
pay increases, or other opportunities because it would result in a steep decrease in their
public assistance payment. Public assistance benefits too often have these cliffs that create
barriers to employment and curtail the upward mobility of vulnerable individuals. The
eligibility requirements should be examined to smooth out these cliffs and allow individuals
to transition more easily.
Every New Yorker, every American has the right to opportunity -- the chance to be more tomorrow
than what they are today, to better their own well-being and that of their family, to strive and achieve.
We can provide these opportunities by committing to grow our economy, invest in people, and reward

From the Ground Up


From the Ground Up