As we conclude the 2013 legislative session, New York has a lot to be proud of. After years of late budgets, legislative gridlock and dysfunction eroding confidence in government, we have been able to show that New York State is working again. Problems that had been intractable for decades have been addressed, and tough issues tackled.
In our first year, we closed a $10 billion budget deficit with no new taxes, cut taxes for the middle-class, established a property tax cap to hold the line on skyrocketing tax bills, and created a new economic development paradigm with Regional Economic Development Councils. The momentum continued into the second year with teacher evaluations that now serve as a model for the nation, sweeping pension reform that saves state and local governments more than $80 billion, and a coordinated statewide plan to rebuild our infrastructure and create thousands of jobs, including the replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge.
We were able to continue the progress this year with unprecedented movement in addressing the state's most pressing need: a revitalized economy and jobs, jobs, jobs. We laid out an ambitious economic development agenda in this year's State of the State address, and I am pleased to say that it is now a reality.
- START-UP New York will be a game changer that utilizes private partnerships with New York's higher education system to create jobs and spur economic development in areas of the state that have been depressed for decades.
- New tax cuts for businesses and the removal of red tape will spur job creation.
- Through targeted state investments and creative public-private partnerships, New York is fostering industries that will drive the economy of tomorrow, from microtech to tourism to agriculture.
- Casinos in upstate New York will boost tourism and be a catalyst for economic development. Already, efforts in this area have led to agreements with Indian nations that settle disputes that literally stretched back centuries, resulting in outstanding back-taxes being repaid, and a new and consistent revenue stream for localities and the state.
All of this is being done in a context of an improved economic climate, evidenced by the passage of a third consecutive on-time budget, the lowest middle-class taxes in 60 years and an new additional credit for middle class families. The combined efforts are already showing tangible results: unemployment is at its lowest level in over four years and New York has achieved its highest level of private sector jobs in our history. Since 2011, NYS has added 336,000 private sector jobs, and was one the first states in the nation to have gained back all of the private-sector jobs lost during the recession.
It has indeed been a busy legislative session, but the people of New York deserve nothing less than a government that works hard for them and achieves results to make the state stronger. I am proud of our accomplishments and heartened by the optimism I see every day in the new New York.
Andrew M. Cuomo