Most notably, he was able to persuade the notoriously feisty and argumentative state legislature to hold firm on new spending and budget cuts to help close a looming $10 billion budget gap. Getting the Assembly and the State Senate to agree to pass a hardline budget that could have political ramifications for them in their home district was a huge achievement for a first-year governor.
And just this week, he tackled another big challenge, kind of.
Since his election, Cuomo has held firm to a "no new taxes" pledge, promising he would restore the state's economy through prudent fiscal policies. That pledge has focused largely on letting the so-called "millionaire's tax" expire at the end of this year.
On Tuesday, the governor and legislative leaders announced a new tax rate that would decrease taxes – or at the very least not increase them – for taxpayers in every income bracket, including a $690 million tax decrease for middle-class taxpayers.
On the surface, this is good news. The middle class in New York State, where we “enjoy” some of the highest taxes in the nation are feeling the pinch. A little relief right now (the tax rates will be readjusted at the end of 2014) will be appreciated.
This is a feel-good measure for Democrats and many Republicans lawmakers, who would have had a tough time in their districts, politically that is, if taxes were raised while the so-called “millionaire's tax” was left to expire,.
If done responsibly, lowering taxes is the right thing to do.
But Cuomo's successful first year was the result of belt-tightening and making the tough budgetary choices that his predecessors were unable or unwilling to make. The governor contends that the new tax rates will create $1.9 billion in funding that will be reinvested back into the New York State economy. We hope he's right.
We also hope that these new tax rates are part of a larger plan to bring New York State's economy into a long-term state of fiscal responsibility and stability and not a short-term feel-good measure.
That said, the governor should continue to find ways to reduce New York State's bloated budget and make the decisions that are best for the state in the long run, and not the ones that are most politically expedient.