Friday, April 14, 2017

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Cuomo cabinet member briefs local public officials on details of state budget


Bradley: Revitalizing New York

TOWN OF POUGHKEEPSIE – The state budget failed to meet the April 1 deadline this year. There were several holdups, primarily in the Senate, which finally passed the $153 billion dollar spending plan on Sunday night.

State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley, a resident of Kingston, delivered the regional budget briefing for the Mid-Hudson to local officials at Marist College on Thursday. Among them were Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison, Wappingers Falls Mayor Matt Alexander, and Town of Amenia Supervisor Victoria Perotti.

Bradley touted Governor Cuomo's initiatives of the 2017-2018 budget including the Excelsior Scholarship which provides free college tuition to students of families making less than $125,000 per year along with other stipulations.  According to Bradley, 92,333 families in the Mid-Hudson region will qualify for the free college education.

Bradley said one of the priorities of the state is to bring vitality back to the urban centers. He pointed to Kingston, which he said is going through a renaissance.

“Commercial real estate is going through the roof in the Uptown and Downtown areas and I think a lot of that has to do with the revitalization the governor has in pumping money back into the economy,” Bradley said. As a young man, he said it was difficult to find jobs locally, but that is not as much the case anymore, especially given the free tuition plan in the budget.

A major stumbling block that the senate encountered in signing off on the spending plan e "Millionaires' Tax" which the majority claimed would drive away the state's highest earners.  In the end, the tax was extended for two years which the governor's office claims will preserve $3.4 billion in revenue.  Cuomo's office said that the tax only affects 45,000 people and half of those aren't full-time residents of the state.

Cuomo, through his budget, instituted the "Countywide Shared Services Property Tax Savings Plan" which has drawn the ire of many local elected officials and drew sharp criticism from the Association of Towns of the State of New York.  According to that group, local governments do not need to be mandated to share services.

Association Executive Director Gerry Geist said, referring to the plan "what we have is a redundant and confusing tax-savings plan, which takes a top-down approach that places too much authority with the county executive and ignores the proven ability of New York local governments to collaborate and share services for the benefit of New York taxpayers." A total of 10,500 local governments in the state are now being forced to participate in the new initiative.

Highlights of the spending plan that will be most noticeable in the Hudson Valley will be the construction of the multi-million dollar Hudson Valley/Catskill Welcome Center, work on the $200 million Empire State Trail that will include the Walkway Over The Hudson in part of a 750-mile trail from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo.  The trail is slated to be completed in 2020.

According to Bradley, some 6 million taxpayers will see a "middle class" tax cut of $700 when the new budget is fully enacted.  He cited Putnam County, as an example, saying that the average Putnam homeowner pays four times as much in local property taxes than state income tax and the new budget seeks to solve that.  The budget also includes $150 million for the Route 17 exit 131 economic corridor in the Woodbury area.


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