Lt. Gov. Duffy in Rochester to pitch "tax-free" zones around SUNY campuses

Posted at: 05/23/2013 12:55 PM | Updated at: 05/23/2013 8:46 PM
By: Berkeley Brean |

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Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy gets honest when News10NBC asks him tough, direct questions about those new tax free zones.

The state is offering 100% tax free zones around all SUNY campuses. That means zero state taxes for the businesses, their owners and their employees for 10 years.

Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy said they are officials from places like New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan in the state right now trying to lure businesses out of New York.

But what about the people and businesses who pay their state taxes right now? Is it fair to them?

Bob Duffy had a friendly audience to pitch the tax free zone idea, college presidents and people whose job it is to bring jobs here. But then he had to take News10NBC's questions.

News10NBC's Berkeley Brean said, “How is that fair to business and people who pay taxes right now?”

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy said, “That's a question that came up since it was announced yesterday. It is a very fair question. I will admit there is going to be a disparity between existing businesses who are paying taxes and new businesses coming who will be on these campuses and who will not. I acknowledge that up front. It's a fair question. Fair issue.”

Brean said, “Is it a fair idea?”

Duffy said, “Well what the governor is trying to do is create the energies around the state to bring businesses in, to open up these incubators in all the campuses.”

That includes the College at Brockport.

Dr. John Halstead, College at Brockport President, said, “Our students for internships, for jobs. We have 464 acres on our campus that's begging for this kind of economic development.”

When the state talks about tax free, it means no business or corporate taxes, no sales tax, no property tax, no franchise fee. And no state income tax for owners or employees.

Duffy said, “Going back to Berkeley's point, it is not going to please everybody. We understand that. But I do believe the positive impacts are going to far out weigh the negatives by a mile.”

Mixed reaction from people on the street. Assemblyman Bill Nojay likes the sales income tax break.

But overall thinks it's a PR thing. He says industrial development agenies like COMIDA are designed to give tax breaks.

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