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State budget director details new initiatives during Glens Falls visit

In a public forum held Thursday April 4 at Crandall Library in Glens Falls, state Budget Director Bob Megna explains how the 2013-14 state budget balances new investments in job growth, education and innovation with tax cuts to families and businesses as well as reform to unemployment insurance and workers' compensation, moves expected to provide $1.3 billion in savings to taxpayers.

In a public forum held Thursday April 4 at Crandall Library in Glens Falls, state Budget Director Bob Megna explains how the 2013-14 state budget balances new investments in job growth, education and innovation with tax cuts to families and businesses as well as reform to unemployment insurance and workers' compensation, moves expected to provide $1.3 billion in savings to taxpayers. Photo by Thom Randall.

— The Cuomo administration's programs to boost employment have resulted in 300,000 new jobs since Jan. 2011, he said, adding he was floored by the data indicating that one-fifth of all new private-sector jobs in the U.S. during that time were created in New York State alone.

Hiked minimum wage offset by tax credits

The state's pending hike in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour, he said, wouldn't burden businesses because the increased wages would be substantially offset by a tax credit for hiring teenage students at minimum wage — credits that are predicted to total $163 million statewide. He observed that 48,000 workers in the Capital Region earn less than $9 per hour.

He also said that through reform of unemployment insurance and workers' compensation, businesses in New York would save $1.2 billion, without decreasing benefits to workers.

Jump-starting high-tech innovation

He said that the budget provides for a program to prompt innovation in industry, particularly in high-technology fields through establishing “innovation hot spots” in academic centers, launching 10 high-technology incubators and establishing tax incentives for business ventures that evolve out of the research and development projects.

“We'll be working to keep young entrepreneurs with great ideas here in New York,” he said.

Educational excellence a top budget priority

Boosting education is part of the plan to create new good-paying jobs, Megna said, noting that the 1013-14 budget calls for increasing state investments in education by $936 million, a hike of 4.7 percent. The Capital Region alone would receive $47 million in additional state aid to education, he added. This aid includes $25 million for all-day pre-kindergarten, $20 million for extended learning time — longer school days or school years; $11 million for rewarding high-performing teachers, and $4 million for early college programs in high schools. The state is to pay 100 percent of the cost of these initiatives, he said.

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