Hello, I’m Governor Andrew Cuomo. Two years ago you sent me to Albany to represent you. Our state was facing real problems and our state government was frankly out of control. Constant spending and tax increases made New York the tax capital of the nation; chasing families and businesses and jobs from our state. The government in Albany hardly worked and when it did it worked more for the lobbyists and special interests than the people of the state. Constant scandals made state government a joke on late night TV. And if that wasn’t enough, then Mother Nature was not kind to us with what we call the terrible three – Storms Irene, Lee and Hurricane Sandy. But New Yorkers never give up and our foundation and legacy are strong. Our state motto is “Excelsior, ever upward”. And I am proud to report that New York is on the move. We have much more to do, but New York is rising once again. Our state government is working; we are creating jobs, cutting taxes and leading the nation in education, civil rights and public safety reforms. Since I took office New York State has created more than 300,000 new private sector jobs. That’s 17 consecutive months of job growth. We’ve welcomed 20,000 new small businesses who opened their doors in communities all across the state, and revitalized our regional economies. Today, New York has more private sector jobs than ever before.
This week we see another example of the progress we’ve made together. In partnership with the State Senate and the Assembly, democrats and republicans working together, we’ve agreed to pass a balanced budget well before the April 1st deadline. This is now the third budget in a row that we will have passed on time. And while three on time budgets in a row shouldn’t sound like much, in New York State this is the first time it has happened in almost 30 years. Year after year the budgets became a flash point for the dysfunction and the chaos of state government in Albany. Budgets were weeks and even months late.
Today is a new and different day. Government is working and it’s working for you. The budget we passed is a real transformation plan for a new New York. The transformation starts with growing the economy, creating jobs and cutting taxes. Cutting taxes sends a positive sign to businesses that New York is a pro-business state and it gives relief to New York taxpayers who have long been overtaxed. This budget cuts taxes on the middle class for the second year in a row. Last year we cut middle class taxes to the lowest tax rates in 60 years. Not since Jackie Robinson played for the Brooklyn Dodgers have taxes in this state been this low.
This budget gives middle class families a new $350 child tax credit. The budget also cuts taxes for small businesses so they can hire more New Yorkers. Overall, everyone in the state pays less taxes today than the day I took office. 98% of the people in the state pay the lowest tax rate in decades. I had hoped to be able to reduce taxes on the very rich by ending the so called “Millionaires Tax.” However, the economy is not rebounded and we could not lose roughly $2 billion in revenue at this time. A key to our success and one of the reasons why we can afford to cut taxes is because we have held the line on spending. Once again, the state budget grows only at the rate of 2%. And state agencies have been held flat. Limited government growth is hard, but it is essential.
Combined with smaller government is our quest for smarter government, more efficient and more effective than ever before. We are focusing on our efforts on public private sector partnerships driving economic growth. Our successful Regional Economic Development Councils, launching new innovation hot spots to incubate more high tech businesses, and promoting tourism in our beautiful upstate New York.
The budget increases our investment in education to the highest level ever. But it also includes landmark reforms to our education system so taxpayers get what they pay for. And the education bureaucracy performs for students. Remember it’s not how much we spend that counts, it’s what our students achieve that actually matters.
And finally, this budget raises the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour because $7.25 an hour is just unfair, unlivable and unsustainable. It’s the right thing to do and the fair thing to do.
My friends it is spring time and things long dormant show new life and rebirth, that’s how I feel about our great state. New York is coming back. New York is rising. And we are building on our strengths. No state in the nation has what we have in New York - our history, our geography, our schools, our drive, our determination. Most of all our people. Two years ago we set out on a journey to make New York stronger, fairer, cleaner and safer and that is exactly what we are doing. Together we are not just going to rebuild New York, we are going to build back better than ever before. As always thank you for the opportunity to serve.