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To Nobody’s Credit

by on July 3, 2012

We’ll never improve old things if New York State keeps doing things the old way. Perpetrating a misguided strategy forged at time’s dawn, Albany is spending your money to bring 19th century buildings into the 21st, a scheme that won’t be paid off until the 23rd. As the totally not distorted maxim goes, you have to spend other people’s money to make money.

The only thing worse than rampant spending is propaganda about it, as when local news stories report grants from Washington as good news without mentioning the national debt or tax rates. Contemplating where the money came from is for stodgy coots who use reactionary words like “responsibility.” So, let’s bribe developers to begin work they should do for their own benefit:

The HH Richardson Complex is one building that could benefit from a plan to raise the tax credit for renovating historic buildings from $5 million to $12 million. All the plan needs now is the governor’s signature.

When it comes to turning old historic buildings in the Queen City into viable office and commercial space, it takes money. And in order to convince more developers to take a chance on renovating historic sites, state lawmakers raised the historic preservation tax credit.

It’s nice of Channel 4 to make the case for the state picking who gets which benefit. How would we know that there’s no other sensible course without the guidance of local news reporters? To back up their case, they turned to a scoundrel who bravely abandoned his principles so New York could have a radical new definition of marriage imposed upon it:

Sen. Mark Grisanti explained, “Historic preservation as we know here in western New York not only creates more jobs than new construction but also has significant economic impacts in the form of new businesses and new long-term jobs created.”

Yeah, it’s just like how the stimulus was an investment that created more jobs except for how it incinerated cash to create fewer jobs. One can’t blame the unprincipled boor for his economic ignorance: Grisanti knows only treachery. He can only hope his gubernatorial co-conspirator is as willing to throw out money. The odds are sadly high:

If Governor Andrew Cuomo signs the bill, developers could receive up to $12 million in tax credits instead of $5 million. Developer Rocco Termini plans to renovate the old AM&A’s department store and says he couldn’t with just the $5 million credit.

“It would have never worked with $5 million,” Termini said. “And that’s why I’ve been waiting to start the project until this bill gets passed. We need the additional equity to make this deal work.”

People who get free candy need to keep getting free candy forever. Termini has done remarkable work bringing life to Buffalo’s downtown. But every business will tell you that they both deserve a tax break and require one, even though a handful of enterprises somehow manage to survive without them. The case for unequal treatment under the law is again made by practitioners of advocacy journalism, which is more commonly and accurately known as bias:

But when News 4 pressed lawmakers Monday on public money going toward private investment, they said developers who take advantage still need to make the biggest investment.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan contended, “Remember the tax credit is designed to be a piece of the funding puzzle – not the whole funding puzzle. The developers and owners are putting significant amount of their capital. This is their risk. We’re just taking a little state money and leveraging it.”

“State money” is New Yorkers’ money, you power-drunk putz. You’re taking what was earned by individuals under the logic that they couldn’t properly invest what’s theirs. But who is so cynical that they wouldn’t trust the government to invest wisely?

Sensible lawmakers would advocate lower taxes for everyone instead of playing favorites. But the drawback is, well, that they couldn’t play favorites. You understand the predicament of assemblymen and state senators who can balance your checkbook so much better than you could.

Opposition to letting certain kinds of businesses get tax advantages has nothing to do with disliking the industry in which they’re involved. On a similar note, loving sports doesn’t mean a fan must back public subsidies for billionaire owners. Ralph Wilson and developers can both pay their own expenses.

The eerily elegant and almost comically striking H.H. Richardson complex includes some of the many remarkable structures in Buffalo that deserve refurbishment. But those who reap the ample benefits of adding contemporary touches to olden buildings can cover the expenses themselves. Lower taxes will help them attract commercial activity. Now, if we could only find an unnecessary program to cut…

Sadly, there’s nothing historic about Albany’s willingness to meddle. This is the most discretion these bloated dunces will ever wield, and they’re not about to break precedent by giving up their piddling arbitrary powers. The era changes, but New York State does not.

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