Cuomo agenda: Transportation, wage hike, business tax cut
ALBANY— New York must raise the minimum wage, cut small-business taxes, ease the burden of high property taxes and invest big in transportation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday in a sprawling address that laid out a long list of priorities for 2015.
In the first State of the State address of his second term, the Democratic governor also called for efforts to make public education more accountable and vowed to address concerns about police misconduct and officer safety.
Most of Cuomo’s agenda is contained within a $141.6 billion state budget proposal released Wednesday. The budget now goes to state lawmakers for review.
To spur the economy, Cuomo is pitching a small-business tax cut and the creation of a new state office to streamline licensing and permitting. He’s also proposing $1.5 billion for upstate economic development. Seven upstate regions would compete for the funds, which would be disbursed in $500 million prizes to three winning regions.
He also proposed raising the minimum wage at the end of 2016 to $10.50 an hour and allowing New York City to raise it to $11.50. The wage is now $8.75 and is set to increase to $9 at the end of this year. Supporters of a higher wage have pushed for a bigger increase, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has asked for state authority to raise it to $13.30.
To help homeowners struggling under high property taxes, the governor has suggested a $1.66 billion program that would provide property tax credits to homeowners whose property tax burden exceeds 6 percent of their income, so long as their income is below $250,000.
On education, Cuomo is proposing changes to the teacher evaluation system that he says will make public schools more accountable. He proposed lifting a charter school cap to authorize 100 new schools throughout the state, and he proposed a tax credit for those who donate money to public or private schools.
Teachers unions oppose additional charters — as well as the proposed tax credit, which they say will undermine the public education system.
Cuomo proposed an approach to infrastructure that balances upstate and downstate needs.
For upstate, that means $500 million for broadband access, along with a promise to avoid toll hikes on the Thruway. Cuomo also vowed to set aside $1.3 billion for the Thruway and the new Tappan Zee Bridge.
For downstate, Cuomo is proposing money for a rail link to LaGuardia Airport in Queens, new rail stations to connect the Bronx to Manhattan and $750 million for new buses, subway cars and upgrades for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
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