Facing criticism from a portion of the business world, Gov. Andrew Cuomo hosted a number of prominent statewide and regional business groups Thursday at the Executive Mansion, where he and top members of his administration pushed the merits of the newly passed $135 billion budget.
Cuomo, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy and Budget Director Robert Megna were among the administration officials who gave a presentation and took questions on the 2013-14 spending plan, portions of which have been knocked by the business community for increasing the minimum wage and extending a tax on the state’s utilities.
The meetings took place over several hours Thursday afternoon, first with The Business Council’s leadership and members of its board and then with top members of at least a dozen state and regional groups.
“It was to talk about specific issues in the budget and also to talk about certain issues that may come up in the remainder of the session,” said Rob Lillpopp, spokesman for The Business Council. “Our members had an opportunity to express their feelings and concerns about the budget, other concerns we might have had going on in the session, and just other general things about how to create jobs and retain jobs in New York.”
Reaction to the state budget — which the Assembly gave final passage to late Thursday night — has varied among the business world, with a mix of praise for certain business tax credits and concern over issues like the rising minimum wage and the extension of a higher income-tax rate on millionaires. In a statement earlier this week, National Federation of Independent Business State Director Mike Durant said the budget shows “the momentum to revitalize the state’s economy has stalled.”
Among those in attendance for the later meeting were top officials from NFIB, the New York Economic Development Council, the New York Farm Bureau and the state Associated General Contractors, among several others.
Michael Elmendorf, president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors, said the meeting he was a part of lasted about an hour and a half.
“I actually thought it was a very good discussion,” Elmendorf said. “It first of all shows how important the administration and the governor … thinks the opinion of the business community is for the direction the state is going. Issues aside, that’s a very good thing.”
The new state budget takes effect Monday, the beginning of the state’s 2013-14 fiscal year.