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Senate Republicans push 'jobs and opportunity' plan

ALBANY – State Senate Republicans want to sharply amend Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget plans by cutting taxes instead of raising them, and on Tuesday proposed eliminating a key economic development program touted by the governor.

“We are the only people in Albany talking about reducing taxes,’’ Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said at an event surrounded by some of his fellow Republicans in the Senate.

Lawmakers and Cuomo are about to enter stepped-up budget negotiations for a new financial plan due March 31. Cuomo laid out his fiscal plan last month and lawmakers are now publicly laying out plans for how they want to reshape portions of his $168 billion budget.

Senate Republicans, allies of Cuomo the past seven years, are showing some signs that they want to stand up to him – especially in a year when Cuomo has vowed to help elect Democrats to oust the GOP from their Senate control.

On Tuesday, Flanagan poked at Cuomo for “haranguing” Republicans in Washington over tax hikes some New Yorkers will face under the new federal tax law and then, in his budget plan, raising taxes on New Yorkers by what he estimated is nearly $3 billion.

That amount includes $1.5 billion in higher taxes that would come unless New York “de-couples” some of its tax code provisions to the new federal tax law; Cuomo this week will introduce amendments to prevent the $1.5 billion tax hike, his administration said Monday.

“We’ll take credit for that,’’ Flanagan said of the $1.5 billion tax action that Cuomo will propose this week. The Senate already passed a measure to prevent the increase that would come unless the state changes parts of its tax code.

The Senate GOP plan includes:

  • $1.2 billion in new tax cuts for businesses, though it is uncertain how the GOP will pay for the tax relief when the state is facing a multibillion dollar deficit.
  • Ending the governor’s Start-Up New York economic development program, which lawmakers say is expensive and hasn’t created promised jobs, and add new oversight of the state’s job creation efforts.
  • Adding new efforts to improve training for an improved skilled workforce.

Senate Republicans also pushed a package to reduce what it calls a job-killing regulatory environment in New York. Sen. Chris Jacobs, a Buffalo Republican, cited a George Mason University study that found New York has 370,000 rules and regulations – twice the national average. He said agencies also have sharply increased adoption of the number of “emergency” rules that are put on the books without public comment.

Jacobs said agencies also are increasingly pushing sweeping new rules that “should come under the purview of the Legislature” and not be adopted as major policy initiatives by agencies.

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