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New York's Cuomo pushes $2 billion tax cut

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gives a news conference after a Metro North train derailment in the Bronx borough of New York December 1, 201
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gives a news conference after a Metro North train derailment in the Bronx borough of New York December 1, 201

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday he would back proposals to cut taxes in the state by $2 billion over the next three years.

Cuomo, a Democrat who is up for re-election this year, said he is trying to reduce the tax burden on families and shed the state's image of a burdensome destination for business.

New York state ranks low in surveys of taxation and ease of doing business. The state came last in a recent report by the Tax Foundation that faulted "complex, non-neutral taxes with comparatively high rates."

"Over the past three years, we have made unprecedented progress toward curbing the rise of taxes and government spending in New York, transforming a state budget with a $10 billion deficit to a $2 billion surplus," Cuomo said.

The proposals mirrored the December findings of a state tax commission set up by Cuomo. They include a two-year freeze on property tax, an increase in the estate tax threshold, lowering corporate taxes and phasing out a surcharge on utilities.

The proposals call for a cut in corporate tax from 7.1 percent to 6.5 percent, its lowest level since 1968, and the elimination of taxes for manufacturing firms in upstate New York.

Cuomo will include the proposals in his yearly state of the state address in the state capital Albany on Wednesday.

The two-year freeze in property tax will account for about half of the projected $2 billion tax cut, which is premised on producing a budget surplus over the coming fiscal years.

Delivering a $2 billion surplus in the 2016-2017 financial year will depend on maintaining a 2 percent cap on spending increases, a promise that could prove challenging.

Cuomo will deliver his budget proposal to the legislature later in January. Lawmakers need to agree on a budget by the start of the state's fiscal year on April 1.

"Any proposal should be premised on a principle of fairness," said Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver. "It is important that we have the resources necessary to fund vital health and education programs."

(Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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