Last Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo gave his annual “State of the State” speech. The event marks the beginning of the 2014 legislative session, and Gov. Cuomo’s re-election effort.
The theme of the speech was that state government is working once again. Gov. Cuomo proudly recounted his successes since taking office – an improving state economy, on-time budgets, marriage equality and gun control, among others. The centerpiece of his speech, seen as one that promotes his position in the political center as socially liberal and fiscally moderate, is a plan to reduce taxes by $2.2 billion over the next three years.
The Governor is proposing to freeze real property tax increases for two years in municipalities that streamline and consolidate. After that, an income-based property tax “circuit breaker” would be put in place. Renters earning up to $100,000 would receive an income tax rebate. He is also proposing to reduce the corporate tax rate, now 7.1%, to 6.5%, give a 20% property-tax credit to manufacturers, and eliminate the corporate income tax for upstate manufacturers. This would be paid for with an expected $2 billion surplus and continued limits on state budget growth.
During his speech, he also said that he will move forward with a plan to allow the limited use of medical marijuana, provided a general timeline for the siting of casinos upstate, announced plans to rehabilitate LaGuardia and Kennedy airports and make another call for ethics reform and his 10-point women’s equality agenda. And he expressed support for expanding pre-kindergarten, but did not explain how it would be funded.