GLENS FALLS In a rare visit to Warren County, state Budget Director Robert Megna told a gathering of civic leaders and citizens about how the newly-approved 2013-14 state budget accomplishes a wide array of goals.
The new budget creates jobs, cuts taxes for middle-class families, boosts the minimum wage, reduces costs for businesses and increases education funding to its highest level ever — yet hikes overall spending less than 2 percent, Megna said.
“Jobs are coming back, confidence is being restored, and as the Governor says, it is now a new New York,” Megna said.
An audience of about 80 people from all over Warren County attended Megna's presentation, and nearly a dozen asked him questions about the spending plan.
Megna noted that the last two budgets, crafted in compromise between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature, represented a dramatic rebound from a $10 billion deficit and had put the state back on a track of financial responsibility.
“We've put our fiscal house in order — and we've right-sized government while showing the nation that New York is open for business,” he said.
Taxes reduced, government spending cut
Megna said that the dozens of state agencies were held to a zero percent budget increase, state employee salaries were kept stable and their employee benefits were re-structured to save taxpayers a substantial sum.
“We now have the lowest middle-class tax rates in 60 years,” he said, adding that families earning from $40,000 to $300,000 annually will be receiving a $350 rebate check this year.
“In 2012, 4.4 million new Yorkers received a tax cut, and there will be more this year,” he continued.
New budget to spur job growth, prosperity
The new budget reflects $800 million in business tax cuts, he added. Small businesses, Megna said, will receive income tax exemptions totaling $141 million, and manufacturers will experience a 25 percent reduction — a total of $120 million — in tax cuts, in an effort to prompt corporations to retain and create high-wage jobs.