Tax and spending cuts would be on the menu under a potential Lee Zeldin administration in Albany, the Republican nominee for governor on Wednesday said.
Zeldin at a news conference in New York City at his campaign headquarters acknowledged a spending plan — the first Republican-written document to land on lawmakers' desks in Albany in more than a decade and a half if he wins — would likely be a difficult one for Democrats in the Legislature.
Zeldin wants to make the state friendlier to businesses, pointed to New York's second-to-last ranking in business climate with the Tax Foundation.
"It's going to take time; we're going to have to work with the Legislature," he said. "It's not going to be easy because there are people who want to raise taxes, not cut them."
New York's budget is the most consequential action taken by the governor and Legislature each year. But in a campaign in which crime and abortion rights have largely dominated the conversation, what a budget would look like under either candidate has received little notice.
Hochul this year negotiated her first budget since taking office as governor. A budget next year could be far more difficult given a potential slowdown in tax revenue amid an uncertain economy.
Zeldin wants an across-the-board cut in taxes, a move that would likely result in the wealthiest New Yorkers seeing a reduction in tax rates for the first time years after Democrats in New York increased taxes in order to fund education and schools at record-breaking levels.
Middle-income New Yorkers are already receiving a reduction in taxes, which is being phased in at a faster pace under a budget Hochul and state lawmakers agreed to earlier this year.
A further reduction in taxes across all income levels would also mean the need for cutting spending, and Zeldin has said he wants to find savings from the Medicaid program, the health care program for low-income New Yorkers. The state's Medicaid program is one of the costliest in the country, and Zeldin called an effort a decade ago to smooth out costs a bungled effort.
Zeldin is not a fan of the personal income tax, either. The state's primary source of revenue, Zeldin said he would want to entirely do away with the tax as well as the estate tax in New York.
He also wants to allow for fracking gas in the Southern Tier region of New York, a process that is currently banned under state law.
"We have to unleash different industries and businesses," Zeldin said. "We will not have a day to waste. But we will have an opportunity."