By Tom Precious
ALBANY -– The state’s embattled manufacturing industry is about to get a major boost in the looming 2014 state budget, officials said Friday.
A plan promoted originally by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to give upstate manufacturers their own tax cuts has been expanded statewide and will cost the state an estimated $193 million. The tax break reduces to a portion of the corporate income tax rate for manufacturers down to zero, officials close to the budget talks say. It also changes the definition of qualifying manufacturers to restrict the tax break to true “nuts and bolts’’ manufacturers, as one source said.
State sources say still alive is a tax break for smaller manufacturers that pay their taxes through the personal income tax. While thought to be dead Friday morning, one official said a tentative deal has been struck to give about $100 million in state tax breaks so that eligible manufacturers could deduct up to 20 percent of their property tax bill on state taxes.
A state energy tax surcharge will be reduced on both homeowners and businesses; Cuomo had proposed the tax break just for businesses. And a proposal to create an independent consumer advocate to monitor the utility industry, a priority of AARP, has died.
Officials cautioned that numbers for some areas could still change as money for other programs – notably education – get resolved Friday night.
The usual Albany confusion spread through the Capitol Friday afternoon, helped along by legislative leaders.
Senate co-leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican, emerged from a private session with Cuomo to say that “as far as I’m concerned’’ the sides had reached a budget deal.
Soon after, the other Senate co-leader, Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat, emerged from the same room with a different story. “I don’t think there’s a deal yet,’’ said Klein, who is still pushing for a low-income housing program. Klein appears to have abandoned his quest to increase benefits and provide up to six weeks of paid family leave for parents to take time off to care for a new child or sick family member.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, did not take part -– at least in person as far as reporters were told -– in the private meeting with Cuomo, Skelos and Klein.
At about noon Friday, the Speaker was in his full Silver-poker-face mode. “We’re at the same place we were last night,’’ Silver said of the talks. Asked if a final deal could happen Friday, he said, “I don’t know. I think so. I’m optimistic.’’