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New York governor wants to spend more on education, lower taxes
[NEW YORK] New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday proposed a US$152.3 billion all-funds state budget for fiscal 2018 that would increase education funding by US$1 billion and cut tax rates for 6 million middle-class residents, extending a "millionare's tax" to pay for them.
His plan, released to the public on Tuesday night during a televised news conference, would also dedicate US$2 billion to water infrastructure over five years and US$650 million to life sciences research over the same period, proposals he made in a series of speeches earlier this month.
The budget would spend an additional US$750 million on economic development programmes, US$567 million on Medicaid and US$163 million to help provide free college tuition for families earning less than US$125,000 a year, an idea Mr Cuomo called a "national precedent in college affordability".
He would lower the different tax rates on households with incomes under US$300,000 for an average savings of US$250 next year and US$700 annually once fully phased in.
To offset those costs and close the state's US$3.5 billion deficit, other state spending would remain flat and he would keep for three more years an 8.82 per cent tax rate on individuals making more than US$1 million a year, or about 45,000 people.
The millionaire's tax falls mostly on those living and working in and around New York City, the region's primary source of economic activity, said Partnership for New York City Chief Executive Officer Kathryn Wylde in a statement.
That rate that is "higher than almost any of our domestic and global competitors when it comes to attracting talent and jobs," she said.
Of the total budget, US$98 billion is from state funds, or 1.9 per cent more than fiscal 2017 - within Mr Cuomo's 2 per cent spending growth cap.
New York's fiscal year begins April 1. Rather than make a traditional budget address to the legislature, Mr Cuomo met privately with groups of lawmakers earlier in the day.
Mr Cuomo continued his push to build more infrastructure, saying he planned to discuss the topic with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday when the two men are scheduled to meet.
He said New York currently has about 500 infrastructure and economic development projects underway.
His love of infrastructure took an artistic turn when he proposed "illuminating all the bridges in New York City with different colour lights," then choreographing them to music.
"Nothing like this has been done on the planet," he said.