I’m back and not happy to be so. I had a short visit to the Sunshine State and was overjoyed to be there. Quite frankly, I wasn’t happy to head for the airport yesterday to return to New York, where, upon returning, I found everything is still brown, snow covered and dirty looking. It’s not like that on the Florida Gulf Coast I assure you.
I see there was a lot of discussion via comments on my previous post regarding Hein as a potential Lieutenant Governor candidate which turned into a discussion about casinos and economic development. Here’s what I’m going to tell you – economic development in this state is nearly impossible and is virtually non-existent. A few people touched on it with comments about transportation and climate, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The overall environment in NYS is anti-business, the tax policy is oppressive and the liberals saving everything from the earthworm to the lakes prevent anything from happening. We’ll see if a casino becomes a reality, but even if it does it’s not going to stop what is already happening here – economic decline, loss of residents and higher taxes.
During my all too brief visit to Southwest Florida I visited three Chambers of Commerce. Cape Coral Chamber in Lee County, Punta Gorda Chamber in Charlotte County and the Venice Chamber in Sarasota County. What an eye opener. Florida, unlike New York, actually wants to attract businesses and they plan for business growth and expansion accordingly. The unemployment rates for these counties as of December 2013 were 5.8, 5.8 and 5.6, respectively. Ulster County’s was 6.5 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Just so you can get the real meaning of these figures, the population of these counties is: Lee County 645,293; Charlotte County 162,449; and Sarasota County 386,147. Ulster County’s population as of the 2012 census was 181,791. With significantly more people on the Florida Gulf Coast, more have jobs.
Economic development in New York requires drastic change, which I don’t see happening anytime soon. Drastic change means a change in leadership at the top to someone with a pro-growth ideology rather than one of expansion of government and increasing the size and reach of the nanny state. Cuomo is not the pro-growth guy New York needs. Drastic change also requires a total shift in ideology of the State Legislature currently controlled by Democrats. Oh, you can tell me all you want that the Republicans control the Senate and I say – no, they don’t. They like to think they do with the nonsense leadership “sharing” arrangement with the IDC and if you haven’t heard, another Democrat from Queens – Senator Avella – has announced his departure from the Democratic conference to join the Independent Democratic Conference. More about power and less about changing the face of New York, but they point fingers at each other, continue to draw their cushy salaries (3rd highest legislature pay in the country) and tell us all how they’re working on fixing things. Don’t hold your breath.
Of course, Hein wants a casino here. So do the majority of the people starving to death in western Ulster County. Ever been to Ellenville? I have and it isn’t a pretty sight, believe me. But one casino does not economic development make. Without addressing the high taxes (property, business, personal income, etc.) and reducing impediments to business, economic development will only be a catch-phrase for taxpayer funded entities that are nothing more than laughable buzz words.