Spitzer Talks Real Estate in State of the State; Pushes Stewart, Knocks Wicks

While the Port Authority is gingerly studying how to beef up Stewart International Airport near Newburgh, Governor Spitzer took a bolder stance during his State of the State address on Wednesday.

“We must have the vision to expand Stewart Airport to become the fourth major airport in the tri-state region and to serve as an economic engine for the Hudson Valley,” he said.

Spitzer also said the Wicks Law had to change; called for more affordable housing; and reiterated other points he had made in the campaign. See after the jump for details.

- Matthew Schuerman

  • Reform the Wicks Law. This 1912 pro-labor, anti-corruption law that requires municipalities to divide large construction jobs into separate contracts (blamed for inflating public works costs by 20 to 30 percent) made it into the speech twice, once with Spitzer lamenting that it placed “undue costs on municipalities,” and, later, in discussing an improved business climate, calling the $50,000 threshold for jobs covered by the law “outdated.” Spitzer’s Republican challenger John Faso wanted to abolish Wicks altogether.
  • Extend ESDC Activity to Poor Neighborhoods. In addition to appointing a separate upstate chief of Empire State Development Corporation (who will be stationed in Buffalo), Spitzer said that downstate, “ESDC will not only drive the big development deals, but will also make sure state investment flows to those neighborhoods and communities that have been overlooked in years past.”
  • “Drastically” Cut Property Taxes. As promised in the campaign, he said his Jan. 31 budget would contain a $6 billion, three-year property tax cut, “cuts that are focused on those middle-class homeowners whose property taxes are rising too fast for their incomes to catch up.”
  • Consolidate Public Authorities. Calling authorities “patronage dumping grounds,” Spitzer promised to eliminate semi-autonomous entities that have outlived their purpose. “And we will staff our authorities with experts picked for what they know, not whom they know.”
  • Increase Affordable Housing: While the state had lagged the city’s effort in this realm, the new Governor said he would inventory what state-owned land could be used for housing and reward “localities that reform zoning laws to allow for increased construction of affordable homes.”