Cuomo says N.Y. state government will push to buy American

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The Empire State will soon be American-made – if Gov. Cuomo can get his latest state of the state proposal through the legislature.

Cuomo unveiled a plan during a speech Wednesday in Syracuse to have the state government “Buy American” whenever possible on any purchases for goods and services over $100,000.

The governor’s proposal would force state entities to give preference to all American-made products – not just large-scale construction projects involving steel.

Cuomo still needs the approval of the Assembly and the Senate to turn his idea into a law – but it was clear Wednesday the governor considers it all but a fait accompli.

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“This initiative will reinvest in the talent that made this state and this country what it is today and strengthen our role as a global leader in manufacturing for years to come,” the governor said.

New York spends billions annually to buy goods and services to use for government projects and agencies.

But existing regulations in most cases don’t require the state to look to American manufacturers first – which can open the door to cheaper foreign goods.

The state is required to “Buy American” when purchasing steel or signing steel construction contracts worth more than $100,000.

But the manufacturing industry – which represents one in every nine upstate New York jobs and over 5% of the state’s total workforce – hasn’t been included in such mandates in the past, the governor said.

That oversight means “New York has been missing a critical opportunity to strengthen a key industry sector” that produces $70 billion a year in goods locally, the governor’s office said.

To qualify as “American-made” under the proposal, more than 60% of the components used in a given product should be produced in the U.S., Cuomo said.

And the end manufacturing process must happen domestically, he added.

Exceptions will be made if the products required aren’t made in the U.S. or if purchasing them would “significantly increase” the cost of the contract.

Cuomo didn’t provide details on what a significant increase might entail – but even with that caveat, the move was hailed by the state AFL-CIO, which had been pushing for a broader “Buy American” mandate for years.

“Our hard-earned tax dollars, as well as our jobs, should not be sent overseas, particularly when we have the best skilled workers in the world ready to do the job,” said Mario Cilento, President of the New York State AFL-CIO.

“With Buy American, we will be creating good manufacturing jobs and strengthening local economies, including right here at home in New York,” he said, adding this “thanks to Gov. Cuomo” for setting a standard for the rest of the country.

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