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Governor Cuomo’s desire to revitalize upstate communities, particularly economically, is admirable. His proposals don’t seem consistent in promoting this, however. Assistance to local governments for water infrastructure renewal projects will help, as will investments to maintain or rehabilitate upstate highways. Care should be taken to avoid investing in most roadway expansion, however. The stable to shrinking populations of upstate communities and the national declines in miles driven per person suggest expansion is unwarranted.
Likewise, the state should not replicate the enormous subsidies to individual businesses handed out as part of the Buffalo Billion initiative, such the $750 million spent to benefit Solar City. Also, one of the biggest competitive disadvantages upstate communities face in the economic development race is New York State’s onerous regulatory regime. A $15 minimum wage is particularly harmful upstate, where communities regularly have to compete with more business-friendly locales across America.
Aaron M. Renn is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal.