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Cuomo talks tech and a whole lot more

January 26, 2017


NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his state of the state address over three days and six different speeches, and released his proposed FY 2018 budget following the talks. Some of his major proposals affecting the technology-based economic development field include proposals he had revealed earlier and have previously been covered in the Digest, including his proposal for free tuition as well as a major investment in the life sciences.  In keeping with our Tech Talkin’ Govs series and budget reviews, some excerpts from his various speeches are detailed here, as well as a closer analysis of his proposed budget.

From his Mid-Hudson address:

“We flipped that whole equation. And that’s what we call our Regional Economic Development Councils. We put together business leaders, academic leaders in every region, and we said to them ‘you come up with the business plans for your region and we will fund your vision.’ And it is working, and it is working very well. $4.6 billion invested in the REDC’s since 2011. And it’s created 210,000 jobs, 5,200 projects all across the Mid-Hudson area. 476 million, in 600 hundred right here. 600 hundred projects right here.”

In Gov. Cuomo’s FY 2018 budget proposal and Five Year Financial Plan, he calls for $1.3 billion in economic development grant funding for several programs including Buffalo Billion II, REDC Round VII, and the Downtown Revitalization Programs. These grant programs incentivize local private sector investments that stimulate and strengthen local economies and create jobs across the state. The REDC program would receive $750 million for the seventh round including $150 million to fund high value regional priority projects and $70 million in state tax credits set aside from the Excelsior Jobs tax credit program.

“In terms of access to education, the world is changing – one time, all you needed was a high school diploma; one time, you didn’t even need a high school diploma,” Cuomo stated. “But then for the past 70 years or so it was a high school diploma, and if you had a high school diploma you could be okay. You could go out, you could work, you could make a living, you could drive a truck, and those days are all but gone.

“If college is essential, the way high school was essential, let’s make that statement as society. The state with the most educated workforce wins. The individual with the best education wins. That is the truth. We know that is the truth. We know that is the future. Then let’s lead to the future. The way we made high school free, we should be on our way to making college free. We can’t get there in one step, we can’t get there overnight, but we can say this year: families up to $125,000, free tuition for their children in state schools and I think that’s going to be the first step towards ultimately, a free college system.” 

The Excelsior Scholarship program was covered earlier in the Digest, and more information can be found here.

On his 11th proposal to invest in a life sciences cluster in NY:

“The ever-evolving life science sector is discovering solutions to the most pressing problems of our time, helping to cure disease and save lives around the world,” Cuomo said. “New York is poised to be a global leader in this industry, and the new, vital incubator JLABS will be the catalyst that pushes our state into the forefront of this exciting field. I look forward to working with Johnson & Johnson and the New York Genome Center to build momentum in the life science industry and establish New York as the home of discoveries that will drive the economy and create a better future for all.”

The life sciences initiative was also covered in an earlier Digest article, and can be referenced here.

Cuomo’s budget proposal also includes the establishment of a Life Sciences Tax Credits program to help increase the state’s ability to commercialize research and translate it into private sector economic impact. Under the proposed budget, the state would offer three types of tax incentives, worth up to $250 million over the next 10 years, including:

  • Existing life science businesses would be eligible for an annual allocation of $10 million in Excelsior tax credits; 
  • New life science businesses would receive a 15 percent refundable tax credit on all new qualifying research and development expenditures. Small businesses in the life sciences industry could be eligible for a 20 percent credit. 
  • Angel investors would receive a credit of 25 percent of their investment in small life sciences companies, with a maximum of $250,000 per investor. 

From his Buffalo address:

“So today, I’m proposing a Middle Class Recovery Act that does three things – focuses on jobs and infrastructure, education, and lowered taxes. On jobs and infrastructure, it’s all about embracing the new innovation economy. And it starts with something as simple as embracing ridesharing. Ridesharing is creating thousands of jobs, it’s promoting safety for passengers, it’s making transportation less expensive, it’s helpful for people who go out and may have a few drinks – it’s actually safer from a drunk driving point of view. It makes total sense. 

“… I am going to propose in my budget that that state fund the Buffalo Billion plan in total and accepts all 20 proposals which will be $500 million dollars but I believe it’s an investment in the city of Buffalo and the State of New York and it will pay dividends and I am proud to advance this.”

In addition to the programs highlighted during his regional speeches, Cuomo’s FY 2018 budget proposal includes several other significant announcements that will impact tech-based economic growth in New York States.  Specific efforts highlighted in the governor’s proposed appropriations include:

  • $500 million for the New NY Broadband Fund Program to expand the availability and capacity of broadband across the state, or development of other telecommunication infrastructure.  The new effort is intended to expand the creation of high speed networks and promote broadband adoption.  Each investment made by the state will require a minimum match of 1:1.
  • $360 million from New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) that is intended to stimulate nearly $1 billion in private sector investments in 11 large scale renewable energy projects across the state, involving clean technologies like wind, solar, fuel cell, and hydroelectric power.
  • $110 million for a new round of the NYSUNY 2020 and NYCUNY 2020 Challenge Grant programs for the state’s public institutions of higher education to use technology to improve academic success, leverage public-private partnerships, and better connect students to the workforce. 
  • $35 million in authorized funding for the Support High Technology Grants – an ongoing university-based matching grants, and other high technology research and development programs administered by the Department of Economic Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation.
  • $33 million to complete the state’s $135 million multi-year commitment to the New York Power Electronics Manufacturing Consortium. The consortium will develop and commercialize wide bandgap power electronic devices.
  • $10 million to establish the multi-year Photonics Venture Challenge in Rochester – a business competition that aims to support start-up companies that commercialize these rapidly developing technologies through a business accelerator program.
  • $5 million in new funding for the Innovation Hot Spots and Incubators Program to foster innovation by offering start-up companies valuable business support services to help commercialize academic research and promote further collaboration between business and academia. 
  • $5 million to establish the newly announced Clarkson-Trudeau Partnership – a partnership between the State, Clarkson University and the Trudeau Institute to form a biotech enterprise in the state’s North Country Region.


The budget proposal also includes changes that will not have a line-item funding amount, but would see changes to the state’s tax code and other budget related items such as:

  • Establishment of the Excelsior Business Program – a tax incentive to build upon existing state programs focused on new and early-stage businesses involved in research and development or production of new products and technology to create better partnership opportunities between businesses, and college and university sponsors. In addition to tax-free benefits for these early-stage businesses, the program would also offer enhanced tax credits for companies that expand and create additional jobs while in the program.  
  • Expansion of the Workforce Training Credit to encourage employer investment in the state’s workforce, the current Employee Training Incentive Program (ETIP) credit is expanded. Under the new program, incumbent worker training will be included as eligible expenses for the credit, given that such trainings are part of a company’s expansion and retention projects. The changes would remove the previous requirement of job creation.   
  • Instituting a state-wide Buy American Policy for government procurement that would require all state entities to give preference to American-made goods and products in any new procurements exceeding more than $100,000. 


NYSTAR releases impact report

The Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) also released their 2016 annual report this week, highlighting the programs’ contributions to job creation and industry growth in the state of New York. Some of the findings include New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership’s efforts that resulted in the creation or retention of 20,677 jobs and its generation of about $3.4 billion in economic impact over the past five years. The success of each of the NYSTAR programs is detailed in the report. NYSTAR provides over $55 million annually in funding to support over 70 centers that provide direct assistance to companies from start-up through maturity, creating a network of assets to enable technology- and manufacturing-led growth and job creation in the state, and integrates with the 10 Regional Economic Development Councils.



New Yorktech talkin govs, state budgets