In New York governor's race, Astorino calls for tax cuts, and Cuomo gets Rockefeller backing

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's bid for a second term bagged an endorsement from a Rockefeller Republican on Wednesday as Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino touted his plan to reduce taxes.

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Cuomo's campaign released an advertisement featuring the endorsement of Larry Rockefeller, a self-described lifelong Republican and Cuomo contributor who is the nephew of former Republican Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. Cuomo said he expects his fiscal centrism wins over other Republicans, too.

"I'm reaching out to Democrats, but I'm going to campaign the way I govern," he said. "I'm also reaching out to Republicans."

In response, Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud tweeted: "Under Andrew Cuomo, only a Rockefeller can afford to live in New York."

Astorino unveiled his tax proposals before a gathering of the Association for a Better New York. He said that if elected in November, he'd push to create a "flatter and fairer" income tax with two brackets that would set the rate at 4 percent for income under $200,000 — $300,000 for a married couple — with a 6 percent rate on marginal income above those amounts.

The state now has eight tax brackets ranging from 4 percent to 8.82 percent.

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Astorino, the Westchester County executive, said he also wants to cut the corporate franchise tax and gradually eliminate the estate tax.

"If we're to turn around our state, we need to be competitive, and to be competitive we need to lower hellish tax rates," Astorino said.

To make up for the shortfall in revenues, Astorino said he would eliminate most business tax credits and tap a new source of tax revenues in natural gas from hydraulic fracturing, which he supports.

Polls give Cuomo a strong lead over Astorino and Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins.

The three men — plus Libertarian candidate Michael McDermott — are expected to participate in the race's only televised debate this month in Buffalo. The only other debate, broadcast on public radio, will not include third-party candidates.