Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to delay a decision on whether New York State should approve a controversial form of natural gas drilling known as hydrofracking, and is now placing an emphasis on other initiatives to help create jobs. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
The nanotech center on the state university campus in Albany was the backdrop for the governor's latest push for economic development.
The center employs more than 3,000 people, and Cuomo is using it as a model to create jobs on other college campuses across the state.
"Job creation through higher ed campuses as tax-free communities," Cuomo said.
The creation of tax-free zones on university campuses is primarily aimed at attracting businesses to upstate New York, although, under the plan, campuses in the four boroughs beyond Manhattan would also be eligible.
"When you look and see why businesses aren't locating here, it's rather simple. We're not as business-friendly as we should be," said state Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein. "These tax-free zones will change that."
At one point in his speech, the governor compared the tax-free zone initiative to the building of the Erie Canal.
"That's what we have done generation after generation after generation, and that's what this generation has to do for this state once again," Cuomo said. "Every generation renews the state for the next generation."
Cuomo's push for economic development comes as his administration appears to be backing away from a plan to allow limited hydrofracking in New York State's southern tier.
Supporters say the gas drilling procedure will create jobs. Opponents say it will be an environmental disaster. Cuomo says economics no longer guide the decision, even if job growth in certain southern tier communities have remained flat.
"No, because the decision is made on the science," Cuomo said. "So these numbers wouldn't mean anything."
Senate Democrats continue to call for a moratorium on hydrofracking.
"We understand the economic impact of hydrofracking," said state Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. "The possible economic impacts could be positive. But we want to make sure that science is what really guides our decision making."
The other initiative that Cuomo is pushing for economic development is upstate casinos. But in order for that to happen, the legislature must approve a bill before the end of the legislative session, and it must go to voters in a referendum.