Economy

Cuomo's Not-So-Renewable Cronyism

The troubles didn't start with Amazon. Here's a look at $750 million squandered elsewhere.

Lewis Morris · Feb. 19, 2019

New York Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s troubles didn’t start with the collapse of the Amazon deal and it isn’t going to end there, either. It was revealed during testimony before state lawmakers last week that Cuomo’s much-vaunted plan to invest $750 million of taxpayer money into a solar panel plant in Buffalo was a washout.

Howard Zemsky, head of the state’s Empire State Development office, testified that the plan, called the Buffalo Billion, would not yield nearly the number of jobs promised. New York State put money up for the state’s Polytechnic Institute to build and equip a solar panel factor that is run by Tesla. Only 700 jobs materialized, and those are by no means secure. Tesla is facing a $42 million fine if it fails to meet the 1,460-job quota by next year.

This is not just another of Cuomo’s get-rich-quick schemes gone bad. Alain Kaloyeros, the head of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for bid rigging in putting the Buffalo Billion deal together.

The scandal has not reached into Cuomo’s office thus far, but it is yet another glimpse into the utter quagmire that is New York State leftist politics. Cuomo, who recently started his third term in Albany, has been trying for eight years to bring business to the ghost towns of upstate New York. He will always fail, though, because he’s going about it all wrong. Ronald Reagan said it best: “You can’t be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.”

The leftist tax-and-spend policies that Cuomo proudly supported for years — and still supports, despite his recent protests — drove businesses and taxpayers out of the state. But it’s going to take more than giving outside companies dispensation from New York’s tyrannical taxes to bring jobs back. Good business sense would be a start.

Cuomo should have never accepted Kaloyeros as head of the development deal. Kaloyeros is a physicist and a professor. He may be a good one, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he should be the architect of a billion-dollar deal with a global manufacturer. He and lobbyist Todd Howe convinced Cuomo that Kaloyeros was just the man to run the Buffalo Billion.

Once Kaloyeros was in place, Howe instructed Kaloveros to rig construction bids in favor of some of Howe’s clients who had contributed to Cuomo. Federal Judge Valerie Caproni said Kaloyeros operated as if he was “above the rules,” blinded by his desire to curry favor with Cuomo. Howe was also convicted, along with one-time Cuomo campaign manager Joseph Percoco.

All of this comes against the news that New York has an over-taxation shortfall of $2.3 billion. Cuomo naturally blames Republican tax cuts, claiming that the cuts weren’t good for New York. Of course, it’s really because New York, like many other Democrat states, has dreadfully mismanaged its tax system.

Cuomo won’t learn any lessons from all this. And being in the opening weeks of his third term, he has almost four years to see how many more times he will get involved in the same failures.

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