Initiatives, tax breaks for ag in NY budget

New York state’s new fiscal spending plan includes economic development initiatives and tax breaks that may help people and businesses in Chautauqua County.

New York lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have passed their third straight on-time budget. The $135 billion budget given final legislative approval by the Assembly holds the spending increase to 2 percent. The Senate approved its bills Wednesday for the budget due Sunday, the start of the new fiscal year.

One initiative included in the budget is a program promoting tourism and agriculture through Market NY. The program is supposed to bolster tourism and better market state-made foods and produce.

“The budget also delivers for our farmers,” said state Sen. Cathy Young, R-C-I-Olean. “Our family farms are the backbone of our upstate economy, and there are several initiatives to strengthen agriculture, including investments to expand marketing New York products such as maple, apple and berries; increase dairy profit teams; support more research and education; and launch the Market NY initiative to bolster tourism and better market our foods, wines, craft beers, fruits and produce.”

State Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-C-I-Chautauqua County, said one of the more important items in the budget for Chautauqua County for economic development is increasing funding for New York Wine & Grape Foundation, NY FarmNet and New York Apple Association.

“Those initiatives play an important role in helping local farmers,” Goodell said. “The state budget also includes a special tax reduction for smaller farms. This would be for farmers who are filing their personal income tax that employee more than one person and make less than a quarter million (dollars). They will be able to exempt 3 percent of their income. The tax credit is to help family farmers in particular.”

There also is a hiring tax credit for employing returning soldiers and young people that will help local businesses. The budget includes a permanent tax credit for the hiring of veterans and $181 million in tax credits over three years for businesses that hire youth.

“Our heroic service men and women who give so much to protect our freedom should be welcomed home with the promise of a job and economic opportunity,” Young said.

Goodell said the tax credit for hiring young people is to help businesses with the raise in minimum wage that will increase $1.75 to $9 in 2014.

“A lot of employers in Chautauqua County hire students during the summer. The budget includes a special tax credit for employers who hire teenagers to help offset the projected costs with the increase in minimum wage,” he said. “The tax credit doesn’t kick in this year, but will next year when minimum wage increases.”