May 10, 2000
Budget head: Cutting taxes will remain Governor's 'constant focus'
Cutting New York's taxes "has been Governor Pataki's constant focus every day, and it will remain so as long as he holds public office," the head the state Division of the Budget (DOB) told business and government leaders at The Business Council's Annual Dinner May 8 in Albany.
Carole E. Stone, acting director of DOB, addressed more than 500 business and government leaders at the dinner. She was a last-minute replacement for Governor George Pataki, who had planned to speak but was at the funeral that day of Cardinal John O'Connor and was unable to attend the dinner as a result. He asked Stone to speak in his place.
Stone also thanked The Business Council for its support of New York's tax cuts and other business-climate improvements of the last few years. "The Governor is proud of that [record] -- but each of you should be too, because he couldn't have done it without your support," she said.
"And that work is not yet done," she added.
Tax cuts: "Taxes and freedom have an inverse relationship -- the more you have of the former, the less you have of the latter," Stone said. "Every dollar that government takes from the person who earned it is an infringement on that person's freedom."
"Real tax relief is about expanding opportunities, unleashing the creative energy of the American spirit and creating new jobs," she said. "By cutting the taxes that stifle economic growth, we can make New York more competitive in the global marketplace while creating more jobs with each passing year -- jobs that allow our children to grow up, graduate from college, and raise their families right here in New York State.
"And most fundamentally, tax cuts reflect the Governor's belief that individuals and private businesses will find the most efficient way to use American capital -- not government. An infinite number of government planners could never keep up with the ingenuity of the American economy, if we just give the private sector a fair chance to pursue its own destiny."
Stone said the new state budget includes some $1.4 billion in new tax relief, including the elimination of the energy gross receipts taxes (GRT) -- "a key component of the Governor's 21st Century Upstate Economic Agenda and I know one of your top priorities as well," she said.
"When you combine this with the $2.3 billion in tax cuts already taking effect this year -- as well as the numerous tax cuts scheduled to phase-in over the next four years -- the people of New York can look forward to more than $6.8 billion in new tax relief by 2005.
"By the end of this fiscal year, we will have provided a cumulative total of more than $40 billion in tax cuts," she said.
These tax cuts have met their goal of reinvigorating New York's economy, she said.
"Tax cuts put the wind in the sails of New York's businesses," she said. "The largest tax-cutting program in our history has already produced more job opportunities than ever before. That's no accident."
Spending restraint: Stone also said that the Governor remains committed to spending restraint. She noted that the five-year average annual growth of the state's General-Fund spending is 2.6 percent, which she said is "less than half of rate at which spending grew under the prior Administration, and nearly three times lower than the national average [7.3 percent] for the other 49 states."
Debt reform: She also said the new debt-reform statute that the Governor won as part of last-minute budget negotiations earlier this month "will dramatically and permanently improve the state's long-term fiscal integrity, save billions of dollars in interest costs for taxpayers, and prevent future generations of New Yorkers from being saddled with an insurmountable burden of debt."
She emphasized that the Governor also remains committed to a constitutional amendment "to ban back-door borrowing and ensure that these debt reforms are permanently enshrined into the State's most fundamental governing code."
Fiscal reserves: Stone noted that the state is also commiting more money to its fiscal reserves, which she said now exceed $3 billion, "one of the highest levels in state history. This represents a huge improvement over the $158 million the State held in reserve when Governor Pataki first took office."
Power for Jobs: This year's budget includes funding for an allocation of 300 new megawatts to the state's Power for Jobs program, which provides reduced-rate power to employers that use it to create or train jobs. Power for Jobs has been "very successful at creating jobs by providing low-cost power, particularly in upstate communities where high utility rates have long been recognized as a drag on the economy," she said.
To read the complete text of the speech, click here.