Governor Cuomo's proposals for dealing with the state’s fiscal crisis, unveiled in his State of the State address Wednesday, include the creation of ten regional economic councils covering the entire state.
The new bodies would coordinate economic development regionally. The idea is to have them build job creation plans and then compete against each other for $200 million in funding. Or as Cuomo said on Wednesday:
"Competition works. Let them come up with their best plans, compete against the other regions and we will fund the most creative plans."
If that all sounds a little harsh, Mark Lavigne, spokesman for the New York State Association of Counties says it shouldn’t.
"I would not view it as pitting one against another. I would view it as making the state more competitive," he says.
However, not everyone who heard the speech Wednesday is sanguine about regions' ability to work cooperatively - or to compete without destroying each other. Jean McPheeters is president of the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce.
"Counties do a lot of work on bringing businesses into counties because that's where the property tax and the sales tax come from," McPheeters notes. This situation makes regional thinking more difficult.
McPheeters said she’s looking forward to seeing the details of the Governor’s plan and how the State Legislature receives his proposals.