Overview of Problem:
Governments at all levels have become increasingly involved in job creation with mixed results. Many rely on giving tax breaks and other incentives to start-up companies as well as existing companies to either expand or move to a certain locality. The Green Party of Monroe County sees many pitfalls in this method of attempting to create jobs:
- Tax revenue lost from abatements means either individual citizens have to make up the difference in revenue and/or services need to be cut. (Usually the first services to go are those that help the poor which is a connecting issue to be discussed in another plank)
- Tax abatements, low-interest loans and other incentives given to one company automatically put competing companies at a disadvantage. The argument that they can apply for these incentives as well means the first problem expands exponentially.
- There are numerous anecdotes of companies creating jobs while competing firms contract in size, thus the overall job numbers remain equal in the locality while tax revenue is lost.
- In Monroe County, almost every company that receives help from COMIDA (County of Monroe Industrial Development Association) gives political contributions to the local Republican (and sometimes Democratic) Party. Even if there is no “quid pro quo” here, the perception of it is unacceptable.
- But the most important issue connected with these incentives is that local tax rates do not rank high on the list of priorities for companies in terms of expansion or relocating. More important are energy costs, infrastructure, quality of area schools and local quality of living.
Therefore, the Green Party of Monroe County Calls for a moratorium on tax breaks for corporations. We are not saying that COMIDA should be disbanded. Instead, GPoMC would like to see the County Legislature direct COMIDA to focus on creating a better business environment as outlined in number five above. It can easily do this by reducing energy costs, working with others to improve the Rochester City School District and improve local infrastructure. Specifically:
- COMIDA and the County Legislature should be helping businesses acquire currently existing Federal and State grants to help them acquire energy-saving technology as well as energy producing technology from solar, wind, hydro and thermal sources.
- COMIDA and the County Legislature should also be focusing on the expansion and creation of locally-owned companies that specialize in the installation of such energy technology. Efforts should also be focused on the creation and/or relocation of companies that manufacture this technology.
- The County should work in conjunction with local unions, the City of Rochester and the Rochester City School District to implement a program in at least one city high school that specialized in vocational training around the installation and creation of renewable energy technology. These programs should be available to suburban students as well. Note: to have students go through this program will require specialized focus on math, science and technology. Therefore, all parties involved should insist the State Department of Education grant waivers for these students for state Regents Exam Requirements. (See the GPoMC Education Plank of its platform)
- The County needs to work with the City of Rochester as well as state and federal governments to begin a light rail system in the county. This will reduce traffic, thus saving wear on our roads. This system should be added to the planned bus terminal at the Renaissance Center and could utilize the existing Aqueduct and subway tunnels downtown. Connected to this are joint measures that need to be taken to contain suburban sprawl – for the same reasons.
If this plan is fully implemented it will have the following anticipated consequences:
- County tax revenues will increase (thus restoring services to the community).
- Real factors that encourage business creation, expansion and relocation will increase.
- The local environment will improve due to the added reliance on renewable energy. This will improve the quality of life and reduce future health care costs.
- The focus on the new field of renewable energy will open an entire new industry in the area, creating an enormous number of jobs – particularly in manufacturing.
- The renewed emphasis on vocational education in the Rochester City School District will attract the students who have been dropping out doe to the over emphasis on standardized testing. Fewer dropouts means fewer kids on the street, thus reducing police, incarceration and welfare costs.
- Institution of a light rail system also reduces pollution, saves public money on road repairs and individuals’ money on car repairs and depreciation. It also uses resources we already have with the aqueduct and subway tunnels.
- The undue influence of financial contributions in local politics will be reduced by stopping COMIDA’s focusing on tax breaks and other incentives.