Friday, October 10, 2014

"Trophy Project" . . .

A healthy dose of pure skepticism was on display last week in Buffalo's ArtVoice over Gov. Cuomo's deal with Solar City (the subject of a post here) and whether it would be a "game changer." Using local economic statistics, writer Jim Heany demonstrates that while the project might be nice for Buffalo to have, it really doesn't change anything.
Deals like SolarCity provide Cuomo with the kind of trophy project that politicians pine for. 
But they also underscore how uncompetitive the business climate in Western New York and New York State remains. What’s more, these deals are a stark reminder that Cuomo and the rest of the Albany crowd have failed to enact reforms that would give us a fighting chance to improve our economic plight without having to ply companies with corporate welfare.
While taxpayers are being forced to pay to manufacture solar panels in Buffalo, the governor is working dutifully to expand the customer base for solar panels, also at taxpayer expense, right here in Oneida County.

Our money is being spent to create an unsustainable false economy . . . unsustainable because these projects do absolutely nothing to change the conditions that have caused NY's economic decline.

Mr. Heany is correct.  Trophy projects change nothing until state policy is reformed.


Greens and Beans said...

Does anyone wonder if Oneida County government could have been coerced into partaking in a solar panel project to retain the State’s recent, and future investments here?

Dave said...

I'm certainly not a fan of corporate welfare, but to be contrary for a moment, we could make the same claims of wasting taxpayer money about the space program in the 1960's and 70's. And there were those who did yell about it. Yet all those contracts with IBM and Raytheon and a multitude of other (at the time) computer companies produced a technology fallout that in the years that followed drove a hefty portion of the United States economy.

In my humble opinion, government has a legitimate role in providing conditions that foster competition and growth in the economy. Where that stops and corporate welfare begins is sometimes a fine line, although admittedly what we've seen lately falls far to the wrong side of the line. But the argument of what's legitimate can also obscure another part of the issue, accountability. If Cuomo's giveaways were monitored and analyzed to show they either helped the citizens of NY State or they benefited just a few friends and relatives ... or the re-election of fellow party members ... then we might learn what works and what doesn't. Remember the Empire Zones program? Tax incentives for promised jobs. When the State was finally forced to check if promises had been kept, everyone was quite disappointed.

Anonymous said...

The true problem is that government is not equipped to pick business winners and losers. And, most seriously, political factors including sound bite, financial donations, influence peddling by consultants and the like dominate the field of government grants and the like. Anyone who thinks that projects are awarded help on merit has not been in the game.

Anonymous said...

Based on data from the National Climatic Data Center, the Syracuse NY area has only annual average of 46% of possible sunshine. Does not seem like a very good area for solar panels.