Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino cast doubt Thursday evening on whether Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will be able to deliver his vaunted Buffalo Billion in full.
The Westchester County executive, who was attending a Niagara County GOP dinner in Wheatfield, suggested that the regional development plan may be trimmed back in the face of projected state budget deficits in the next few years.
Astorino stirred an uproar among local Democrats last week when he told attendees at the Republican state convention that the Buffalo Billion is “unsustainable” and said it was “just throwing around tax dollars.”
The billion dollars “is going to help Buffalo, to be sure,” he told The Buffalo News prior to the dinner in Suzanne’s Fine Dining, 2843 Niagara Falls Blvd., “but what would really help is a good economy.”
He said that job growth has been poor under the Cuomo administration and contended that more people move away from New York than any other state in the nation.
“Four hundred thousand New Yorkers left in the past three years,” he said. “If they thought we were going in the right direction, they’d still be here.”
Astorino’s appearance in Wheatfield was part of a three-day tour of Western and Central New York.
On Thursday, he met with the Rochester Business Alliance, then toured three companies in Orleans County – Precision Packaging Products in Holley and Western New York Energy and The Pickle Factory, both in Medina. Today, he will finish up with stops in Buffalo and the Southern Tier.
“The question I ask everyone is, are we winning or losing as a state,” he said. “Apparently, most people think we’re losing. People have lost hope and it doesn’t have to be that way.”
He cited corruption in Albany, high taxes, oppressive business regulations and the controversy over the Common Core in education.
“I would repeal Cuomo’s Common Core in a second,” he said. “Cuomo latched onto Common Core for a few extra federal funds and it’s been a disaster. I would get back to the basics and local control.”
Astorino said, if elected, he would “do what we did in Westchester County. We cut property taxes. We reduced the budget from $1.8 billion to $1.7 billion. We have the highest credit rating in the state. We gained 30,000 private-sector jobs in the last three years. Before, it was a losing county. We’ve turned it into a winning county.”