Economic Development and Job Creation
Governor Cuomo’s first priority was getting New York’s economy working again to create jobs. His economic strategy began with a simple premise: New York has no future as the tax capital of the nation. To grow the economy we needed to reduce taxes. Lower taxes meant more economic growth, which would lead to more revenue for targeted, job-creating investments. New York’s taxes were too high because government was spending too much. So the first step was a return to fiscal responsibility and to reduce spending.
Controlling Spending to Control Taxes
In his first budget, Governor Cuomo closed a $10 billion deficit with no new taxes, fees, or gimmicks. This budget, and the four to follow, were on time, honestly balanced budgets that held state spending growth below 2 percent — well below the rate of inflation — and represented the lowest rate of spending growth over a four-year period in over 50 years.
To close record deficits without further burdening New York taxpayers, the Governor reduced the size and cost of government. He launched the Spending and Government Efficiency (SAGE) commission to undertake a historic redesign of state government and eliminate unnecessary bureaucracy. Agencies were merged and more efficient entities created, such as the Department of Financial Services, formed by consolidating the Banking and Insurance departments. Through these and other initiatives he was able to reduce the size of the state government. In addition, the Governor worked with the New York’s public employee unions to negotiate a wage freeze and other cost savings that produce $1.6 billion over five years. He also reformed New York’s unsustainable pension system, saving state and local governments $80 billion over 30 years.
After four years of responsible fiscal leadership, Governor Cuomo turned the $10 billion deficit into a projected $2 billion surplus. With spending under control and government spending down, the State could cut taxes and reverse the mentality of New York as the tax capital of the nation, an image that defined New York for decades.
Cutting Taxes to Grow the Economy
With high taxes driving families and businesses from New York, Governor Cuomo has worked since taking office to reduce taxes for all New Yorkers. Today, every New Yorker pays a lower income tax rate than they did the day Governor Cuomo took office. The middle class tax rate is the lowest it’s been since 1953. The corporate tax rate dropped from 7.1 percent to 6.5 percent, its lowest level since 1968. The income tax rate for manufacturers is now zero percent, the lowest rate since the tax was put in place in 1917. To reduce the burden of the estate tax on small, family-owned businesses and farms, and stem the exodus of New Yorkers who were literally moving to die, Governor Cuomo worked to increase the threshold of the estate tax value to the federal exemption level.
The most onerous tax in New York is not the income tax – it is the property tax. Governor Cuomo campaigned in 2010 promising to stem the growth of skyrocketing property taxes and deliver real relief for New York homeowners. During his first year, Governor Cuomo successfully enacted a two percent property tax cap, a measure that provided billions of dollars in relief to homeowners and forced local governments to spend within their means instead of shifting the cost to taxpayers. In 2014, Governor Cuomo enacted further major property tax reform, putting in place a plan to freeze property taxes for two years for homeowners who live in communities that develop plans to cut the cost of government by eliminating duplication and waste.
To further help local governments control their costs and taxes, Governor Cuomo worked to enact historic mandate relief, including saving counties and New York City $1.2 billion over five years through Medicaid reform and groundbreaking pension reform that will save local governments, school boards and the state $80 billion dollars over 30 years. He also created the combined Legislative and Executive Mandate Relief Council to reduce mandates on local governments and schools, as well as the Financial Restructuring Board to help distressed local governments manage their finances.
Targeted, Regionally Focused Economic Investments
Regional Economic Development Councils
Cutting taxes for all New Yorkers and for businesses represented a macro-statewide approach to creating jobs. To complement this approach, the Governor replaced the Albany-centered economic development model with a micro, bottom-up initiative that empowered community, business, and academic leaders to forge a regional strategy for job growth. The ten Regional Economic Development Councils have proved to be a tremendous success, enabling each region of the state to build on its strength and chart its own economic destiny.
In addition, the Governor has put in place a series of innovative new job creating programs to help grow the state’s economy and make New York a more attractive place for businesses to invest and expand.
START-UP NY is one of the most exciting jobs initiatives put in place by the Governor, giving New York State a competitive edge by offering a completely tax free environment to new businesses – in addition to the enormous geographic, cultural, and economic benefits that come with starting a company in the Empire State. The initiative builds on the strengths of New York’s higher education system by encouraging businesses to partner with college programs and take advantage of the research capabilities, academic programing, and job training initiatives that are part of our state’s university campuses.
Investing in Targeted Industries
New York, in addition to its rich historical attractions, is home to many niche industries, including tourism, beverages, and yogurt, which support tens of thousands of jobs in local communities across the State. Recognizing this unique opportunity, the Governor put in place an economic strategy that has sought to help these industries grow and expand. At the center of this strategy is a series of summits, which have brought industry leaders, business owners, and the state agency heads together to cut barriers to growth, reduce red tape, and find ways for the State to support the continued expansion of these niche industries.
- Growing Tourism: As an economic engine, tourism directly supports nearly 500,000 jobs and generates tens of billions of dollars in revenue for New York businesses. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the State has expanded efforts to support the tourism industry including a $60 million tourism campaign – the largest State investment in tourism in decades.
- Encouraging Agribusiness: New York is now the yogurt capital of the United States, with the number of processing plants more than doubling since 2000 and the amount of milk used from 158 million pounds to 1.2 billion pounds over the last years. Governor Cuomo hosted New York’s first Yogurt Summit to support further growth of the industry and help dairy farmers increase milk production, better manage the large amount of waste produced by cows, and save money on energy costs by turning waste into a renewable source of energy.
- Support for the Beverage Industry: Supported by the State’s robust agriculture sector, the beverage industry has grown rapidly in New York over the past years. The Governor hosted two summits to bring the farm-based beverage sector together with agricultural producers and government officials to support the continued growth of wineries, breweries, distilleries, and cideries. These summits produced new legislation to enable beverage producers to open restaurants and expand their markets, and a new marketing campaign to bring New York beverages to consumers nationwide.
Few regions in New York suffered as poorly as Western New York following the nationwide loss in manufacturing jobs. Yet for generations, Western New York has been practically ignored by Albany. Since taking office, Governor Cuomo has put an unprecedented focus on revitalizing the economy of Buffalo and Western New York. At the heart of these efforts, he committed a $1 billion investment in the Buffalo regional economy to create thousands of jobs and spur new investment and economic activity.
Starting in the 1990s, New York pioneered a unique model to ensure the State would become a global hub of nanotechnology research and development. Under Governor Cuomo, the State has built on the success of the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, extending the nanotech corridor to communities across New York State. In Utica, for example, six leading global technology companies are investing $1.5 billion to create “Nano Utica,” establishing more than 1,000 new high-tech jobs on the campus of SUNYIT in Marcy.
New Casino Gaming Resort Destinations
New York is surrounded by States with casino gambling facilities, drawing millions of dollars in spending out of the Empire State each year. The Governor worked to place a successful constitutional amendment authorizing casinos on the November 2013 ballot, enabling four resort destination gaming facilities to be located in Upstate New York, and helping draw visitors to experience all that Upstate has to offer.
Growing Clean Energy Industries
Governor Cuomo has invested in growing New York’s green jobs sector, including launching a $1 billion Green Bank to make strategic investments in clean energy; creating the NY-SUN solar energy program, a $1 billion commitment to make the solar industry self-sustaining over the next decade; and putting in place the Charge NY Initiative with a goal of installing 2,500 new electric vehicle charging stations by 2018.
New Yorkers are experiencing the results of these efforts. Since 2010, 436,700 private sector jobs have been added to the economy, making New York number two in net private sector job creation since the recession. The State has more private sector jobs today than any time in history, and every region of the state has a lower unemployment rate than it did in early 2011.