Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo appeared in West Hempstead Monday to sign a new law that ends or reduces the Metropolitan Transportation Authority payroll tax for hundreds of thousands of businesses and individuals in New York City and seven downstate counties.

"Small businesses are New York's growth engine, and this tax reduction will help create jobs and get our state's economy back on track without jeopardizing funding for the MTA," Cuomo said at Cornwell Avenue Elementary School.

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Cuomo's Middle Class Tax Cut and Job Creation bill eliminates the MTA tax for some 290,000 businesses in the 12-county MTA region with annual payrolls ranging from $10,000 to $1.25 million -- nearly 80 percent of businesses currently paying the tax. Another 6,000 businesses with payrolls from $1.25 million to $1.75 million, will see tax cuts of one-third to two-thirds.

The MTA tax was enacted in 2009 to help bail out the cash-strapped transit agency. But officials and business owners on Long Island increasingly have been speaking out against the tax, calling it an unfair and unwelcome burden in a tough economy.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), a leading opponent of the tax, praised Cuomo's work on the tax cut and jobs bill passed Dec. 5. Other lawmakers who attended the news conference included state Sen. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Assemb. Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead).

"We're going to undertake a jobs program in this state in a way that has not been done in modern political history," Cuomo said in West Hempstead. "We're going to start rebuilding our roads and our bridges that we should have been rebuilding for decades."