By Justin Sondel
Niagara Gazette — Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy visited Niagara Falls on Thursday to deliver details of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's spending plan for the upcoming budget year.
Duffy addressed a crowd of business leaders, politicians and high school students in the Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls, saying he expects Cuomo's budget to pass the legislature by the April 1 deadline for the fourth straight year, a feat that has not happened in New York in decades.
"This is the governor's proposed budget," Duffy said. "There's a lot of work to be done between now and by April 1, but I'm confident that by April 1 the governor, the legislature, the Assembly and the Senate, as they've done so well in the last few years, will have this budget finalized."
Duffy said Cuomo has been able to reign in overspending, a problem that has plagued New York state for years.
"Spending has outpaced everything," Duffy said. "That's one of the problems we've had in New York state government."
Cuomo's proposed budget includes a projected $2 billon reduction in taxes by the 2016-2017 budget year. When he took office in 2011 the state was running a $10 billion defect.
Duffy said that Cuomo has taken the state from a terrible fiscal situation into one of stability.
"When I say these things I don't want to project that things are perfect," Duffy said. "They're far from perfect. But it's going in the right direction. Like a journey or a marathon we're taking one step at a time and it's getting better every week, month and year."
Cuomo's spending plan includes:
• $150 million in new economic development capital funding and $70 million in state tax credits to be distributed by Regional Economic Development Councils
• $157 million for the environmental protection fund, a $4 million increase over last year's budget. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has seen its budget cut under Cuomo in recent years.
• The elimination of the net income tax rate on upstate manufacturers. The current tax rate is 5.9 percent.
• A reduction and simplification of corporate taxes. Cuomo's plan would combine the corporate franchise and bank taxes and would lower the tax rate on net income from 7.1 percent to 6.5 percent.
City Council Chairman Charles Walker introduced Duffy at the afternoon event.
He said Cuomo's recent spending plans have put the state in a position to find fiscal stability.
"He's been right on point with all the things he's done," Walker said.
Many of the provisions in the budget demonstrate a commitment to Western New York from Cuomo's office, according to Walker.
"I look forward to his continued interest in Western New York," Walker added.Contact reporter Justin Sondel at 282-2311, ext. 2257