Gov. Cuomo announced last week that his 2015-16 Executive Budget will be released and presented together with the 2015 State of the State Address.  The Governor’s budget proposal has been dubbed the 2015 New York State of Opportunity Agenda.

The event will be held on Jan. 21, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany.

Gov. Cuomo spent much of last week providing a preview of his second-term agenda, which he will formally release next Wednesday.  He announces initiatives relating to a real property tax circuit breaker, an “Upstate Revitalization” competition, and a broadband expansion program.

On Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo announced that he will propose a “circuit breaker” plan to reduce property taxes by $1.66 billion.

Calling high taxes the “No.1 problem in the state,” the Governor said that he will propose an income tax credit for some homeowners and renters through a real property tax “circuit breaker” where their total property tax bill exceeds 6 percent of their income.

While we agree with the Governor that high property taxes are a huge problem in New York, we do not agree with his solution to the problem. A property tax circuit breaker only shifts the property tax burden to all taxpayers – it doesn’t do anything to address the underlying problem of too much government spending. It also fails to deliver property tax relief to businesses across the state.

On Thursday, Gov. Cuomo appeared in Rochester and announced that he will propose a $1.5 billion Upstate New York Economic Revitalization Competition “to help continue to restore economic opportunity to regions across Upstate New York.”  This is a plan we can get behind – we believe that it will help promote job growth and strengthen the Upstate economy.

The Governor described the plan as being like his Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) program, but “on steroids.”  Under the proposal, seven Upstate regions will be eligible to compete for one of three $500 million upstate revitalization funds: Mid-Hudson, Capital Region, Mohawk Valley, Central New York, North Country, Southern Tier and Finger Lakes. Gov. Cuomo also announced that he has appointed Richard Tobe, who currently serves as Deputy Erie County Executive, to serve as Director of Upstate Revitalization and to lead the efforts of the competition. The upstate revitalization funds will be guided by a five-member Strategic Plan Review Committee comprised of:

  • Bruce Katz, Brookings Institution
  • Marc Morial, President, National Urban League
  • Cesar Perales, New York Secretary of State
  • Susan Christopherson, Professor and Chair of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University
  • RoAnn Destito, Commissioner, Office of General Services

And on Friday, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul announceda $1 billion broadband program “that leverages both public and private resources to ensure every New Yorker has access to high-speed internet by 2019.”

The state will provide $500 million under the New NY Broadband Program to “incentivize the private sector to expand high-speed broadband access in underserved and unserved areas.” Broadband providers seeking to utilize this public funding will have to provide at least a 1:1 financial match; must provide internet speeds of at least 100 Mbps; and must work with their Regional Economic Development Council (REDC).