New York state denied Empire Zone tax credits on Friday to all 33 businesses that had tried to regain the incentives, capping a quick and controversial appeals process.
The votes by a state board followed through on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stated intentions that he laid out in a radio interview earlier this week, saying, “we’re actually trying to remove the benefit, not give the benefit.”
Empire Zones were once the state’s flagship business incentive. The companies at issue Friday included the landlord for 41 State St., a 12-story office building in downtown Albany that received $536,000 a year.
Most of the votes were taken with a four-person quorum. The board’s three other voting members were either absent from the meeting, or they abstained in a protest that the state was rushing to a vote.
“A number of outstanding issues and unanswered questions … make it difficult to make an informed decision at this time,” said Ryan McAllister, an aide representing Senate Republicans.
Mario Musolino, chair of the appeals board, said the 33 companies “absolutely” received a fair and sufficient hearing.
“Voluminous materials have been reviewed,” Musolino said. “In conversations with board members, it was clear they had reviewed all the materials extensively, both in public and in private, and were prepared to move to decisions today.
“I think the board’s actions speak for themselves,” added Musolino, the No. 2 official at the Department of Labor.
It is unclear what other recourse the companies now have.