TARRYTOWN, N.Y. - Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is expected to announce next week whether or not he will run for governor against Andrew Cuomo, sources tell NY1.
Astorino, a Republican, was solidly re-elected last November in the Democratic-leaning county.
He was in Westchester Friday morning, where he spoke with NY1 exclusively about Startup New York, the signature economic development program being promoted by Governor Cuomo.
The program, originally known as Tax Free New York, was unveiled last May in what critics at the time described as a clumsy rollout. Now known as Startup New York, it allows businesses to locate on college campuses in New York State and not pay any taxes for 10 years.
Astorino said that Startup New York has been a failure, with very few, if any, businesses taking advantage of those incentives.
He said that any slogan about New York being open for business is a "national joke."
"Alcoa is closing up shop. Novartis is closing up shop in Rockland County. So you just hear about more and more people leaving," Astorino said. "Four hundred thousand people have left New York in just the last three years under this governor."
Astorino went on to criticize the amount of money Cuomo is spending on the program. According to Astorino, the program is funded with $140 million in state money, but so far, Astorino said that there have been zero takers. In other words, no new businesses have taken advantage of the program.
Astorino blames the pages of onerous regulations and restrictions that determine who is eligible.
"He can spend all the money he wants, and he spent tens of millions of our tax dollars on this Startup New York campaign, which has started up nothing," he said. "In fact, just the words 'Startup New York' is an admission that New York is idle at best."
The Westchester County executive also took aim at the ad campaign that accompanies Startup New York. He said that $17 million is being spent on television ads, including $9 million in the expensive New York City market.
"The reason why the governor's using the Startup New York campaign for a new New York, which is his slogan, is very simple. It's to drive up his poll numbers," Astorino said. "It's not to bring in businesses."
The Cuomo administration countered that Startup New York was supported and passed last year by state lawmakers, including Republican state Senate leader Dean Skelos.