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Cuomo takes aim at state comptroller, lawmakers on jobs programs criticism

ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo used a jobs announcement in Amherst Tuesday to push back against the state’s chief fiscal watchdog and state lawmakers critical of his administration’s economic development programs.

The governor lashed out at state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, calling his recent analyses of jobs programs “dead wrong.”

“He should educate himself,” Cuomo, a Democrat, said of the Democratic comptroller.

A week after his economic development czar spent two hours tangling with lawmakers during an Assembly hearing on job creation plans, Cuomo saved some jabs for state lawmakers.

“The comptroller was in the New York State Legislature, and he sat in that Assembly as did members of the Western delegation, for many, many years when New York and upstate and Buffalo hemorrhaged jobs. We had 30 or 40 years when there were jobs that were leaving Buffalo on a daily basis … and all they did was make it worse by continuing to raise taxes, raise taxes, raise taxes,” Cuomo said.

“Frankly, the New York State Legislature should look long and hard in the mirror about what they did to upstate and how we would up in the situation we’re in, because it didn’t have to be,” he added.

The comptroller did not back down.

“There is no debate on the need to create jobs in New York,’’ DiNapoli said in a written statement after Cuomo’s appearance in Amherst to announce Geico’s expansion. “Our audits have thoughtful, constructive recommendations for how New York’s economic development programs can be more effective.”

The rising tension between Cuomo and DiNapoli and a bipartisan group of state lawmakers comes after weeks of criticisms aimed at the governor’s economic development programs. The comptroller has criticized efforts that provide tax credits and low-cost energy. He also has said job numbers claimed by the administration have been overestimated.

The state Assembly last week held a hearing on Cuomo’s program. The governor’s signature Start-Up NY initiative – which gives 10 years of tax breaks to participating companies – came under special fire after producing 408 jobs in two years.

Robin Schimminger, a Kenmore Democrat and chairman of the Assembly economic development committee, on Tuesday said critiques of Cuomo’s job programs are legitimate oversight functions of the Legislature, and that the governor’s economic development agency was late in reporting on job numbers for Start-Up, and, when it did, provided numbers that were inadequate and inaccurate.

Schimminger noted that he has opposed Cuomo deals that have driven up costs, including a 2011 income tax hike program and the more recent minimum wage increase.

“He paints things with a very broad brush. I would hope that he would apply his energy and zeal to fixing those things he identifies as cost factors of doing business in New York state as he has committed to certain social issues,” Schimminger said.

A Cuomo aide clarified the governor’s comments, saying the criticism of the Legislature was directed at Schimminger and Assemblyman Raymond Walter, R-Amherst, two of the more vocal critics of Cuomo’s job program.

Cuomo took two shots at the Legislature Tuesday: in his speech announcing the Geico deal and in comments with reporters after the event. [Geico is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, as is The Buffalo News.]

Cuomo said the $4 million the state is giving Geico to create 600 jobs over six years is “a paltry amount” compared with the job investments. He said those who criticize job creation tax and grant incentives as being “not in touch with reality.’’

“Every state now competes for private sector jobs,’’ Cuomo said.

email: tprecious@buffnews.com

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