TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented his 2014 state budget to the Westchester County Association Wednesday at the Marriott Hotel calling it the "Grand Slam" for being a fourth consecutive on-time budget.
An upbeat Cuomo used a Powerpoint Presentation to tout his administration's three-year run of tax reduction, spending cuts and political and private sector coalitions that he said were key in getting the state back its fiscal credibility.
"The state budget is much more than a planning device, it basically answers the questions who are you going to tax, how much, and where are you going to spend the money, down to the finest detail," Cuomo said. "Government gridlock happens when we do the budget because this is here the money is."
More than 300 people filled the Marriott Hotel meeting room to listen to Cuomo as he explained how the state's history of high property, income and corporate taxes had crippled the economy and burdened taxpayers.
Cuomo said the fiscal health of the state has improved over the last three years with implementation of a 2 percent tax increase limit.
"When we look back just a few years ago, the State of New York was in peril, with scandals, indictments and basic dysfunction and that our vest days were behind us," Cuomo said. "We were the highest tax state in the nation that had to change."
The Governor attributed his administration's collaborations in political and private sectors, decreased spending and lower income, corporate and manufacturer taxes as reasons for getting the state's fiscal house in order and its economy back on track and growing.
But Cuomo also stressed that New York's real estate taxes -- the highest in the nation in Westchester County -- must be brought under control. The governor attributed the problem to the cost of running 10,500 local governments and their services.
"We have made it easier and offered incentives for local governments to consolidate and merge costs and services and just two have done so," Cuomo said. "And when local governments' costs increase, they just raise taxes. That can not continue."
Cuomo detailed the state's business friendly environment that offers 10 tax-free years to new businesses, the ability of his administration to plan and begin work on the new Tappan Zee Bridge and a "cooperative" political environment in Albany as legislators work to implement programs while balancing the budget.
"We are offering a better atmosphere for businesses and manufacturers (zero tax rate), while supporting education with Pre-K, charter schools and investing $2 billion in technical education across the state," Cuomo said. "We are investing in roads and infrastructure. The government can work and we're seeing it happen."