Unshackle Upstate has released a five-point plan for job growth and lower taxes in the parts of the state that aren't New York City.
The plan focuses primarily on eliminating or changing certain taxes and surcharges. But Unshackle officials are also highlighting the potential benefits fracking the Marcellus Shale.
During a press conference this morning at the Rochester Business Alliance offices, Unshackle Upstate executive director Brian Sampson said that fracking could create 12,000 to 15,000 jobs in the Southern Tier. And a press release from Unshackle says that fracking would generate approximately $78 million for the state in 2014-15. (The job creation figures and economic benefits of fracking are often viewed skeptically, in part because many of the jobs go to workers from outside the areas where drilling is happening.)
"We think it's time for New York to get off the dime and develop the Marcellus Shale through hydraulic fracturing," Sampson said.
Unshackle Upstate is also calling for:
- A 25 percent reduction in income taxes for upstate residents making less than $50,000 a year;
- Phasing out the corporate franchise tax by 2018;
- Halving the state sales tax in upstate counties that have high unemployment rates and declining populations;
- Eliminating the 18a energy assessment for upstate manufacturers — a move that would lead to slightly cheaper energy costs for manufacturing businesses.
Left unsaid is how to make up for the revenues lost through these moves. Unshackle officials say that's not their problem — it's the state job to fill the gap.
Republican Senator Joe Robach, Democratic Senator Ted O'Brien, and Assembly Republican Minority Leader Brian Kolb spoke in support of Unshackle Upstate's plan. O'Brien, however, says that he only supports the tax components. He's not committing to the fracking plank, he says, and wants to wait for the results of the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Health Department reviews.
All three legislators said that upstate needs a different approach to taxes than New York City. And since the State Legislature has passed special laws just for New York City, they said they see no reason why the same couldn't be done for upstate.
Below are video clips from Kolb's and O'Brien's remarks.