Schools, taxes and roads: NY Gov. Cuomo to give State of the State address, unveil budget plan

Industrials Associated Press

In the first State of the State address of his second term, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is promising a long list of measures including tax cuts for small business, property tax relief, funding for bridges and subways and efforts to improve public schools.

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The details of how the Democratic governor expects to pay for his 2015 agenda will come when his administration unveils its budget recommendations. While Wednesday's speech will be heavy on rhetoric and big ideas, look to the budget for the fine print.

"This is probably the most robust State of the State that I've done," Cuomo said Tuesday in a preview of his remarks.

Governors typically deliver their State of the State address weeks before they release their budget proposal. This year, however, Cuomo will do both in one day. He spent the last week announcing his priorities for the year, measures that will likely dominate his speech and budget proposal, along with the year's legislative session.

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.

On taxes, the governor has suggested a $1.66 billion program that would provide property tax relief to homeowners whose property tax burden exceeds 6 percent of their income, so long as their income is below $250,000.

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Cuomo has called for 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 state money to reduce the need for toll increases on 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.

Education is expected to be another key issue for Cuomo, who said Tuesday that he wants to use teacher evaluations to take on a bloated and inefficient public education system. Proponents of charter schools have asked Cuomo and lawmakers to raise a cap on the number of authorized charter schools.

Cuomo is expected to use his address to touch on several other recent proposals, including a call to raise the minimum wage from $8.75 to $10.50 per hour and to create a commission to study legislative compensation.

The address is set for 1:30 p.m. at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center.