WXXI AM News

WXXI Public Broadcasting: Daniel Robison

In recent years, donut shops, car dealerships and doctor’s offices have received tax breaks from industrial development agencies in western New York.

Now, first-term Assemblyman Sean Ryan (D-Buffalo) has crafted a bill to halt such deals. He joins a growing chorus of critics who argue IDAs have lost their way since being created in the 1960s to generate high-paying manufacturing jobs.

Ryan hopes the legislation becomes a model for the rest of the state. But it’s far from being put to a vote.

Research into multiple sclerosis has accelerated rapidly in the last few years - and doctors in Buffalo are at the forefront.

Information about how MS progresses in patients has long been out there, but it wasn’t being synthesized or analyzed effectively.

Now, SUNY Buffalo is using a new supercomputer from IBM that can help researchers make connections between environmental and hereditary factors and how MS affects its victims.

SUNY has stepped up its self-promotional efforts.

In an attempt to paint the university system in a better light - and perhaps to justify its $10.8 billion budget in tight economic times - SUNY staged a regional “showcase” in Buffalo Tuesday. It was one of ten similar events thrown over the past year.

The science fair-like atmosphere - with dozens of booths and cardboard displays - provided a chance for nine western New York SUNY campuses to toot their own horns - be it in scientific research, new degree programs or job creation.

Industrial Development Agencies will be the target of Buffalo's newest assemblyman when the legislative session kicks off this week.

First term Democrat Sean Ryan says IDAs give questionable tax breaks to already-profitable businesses, not companies that actually need help.

Imagine driving without a speedometer and still trying to go the speed limit. Chris Montag, chief operating officer of Ladybug Teknologies, says that's analogous to going out drinking without a Breathalyzer.

"It's something we've done for hundreds of years, and nobody's ever had a tool and we guess ... that we're OK," Montag says. "But, really, how do you know when you've never been able to measure it?"