Gov. Andrew Cuomo met privately with members of the statewide Business Council Tuesday afternoon to pitch them on his 2014-15 state budget proposal.

The event, held at the Albany Hilton near the state Capitol building, also included Cuomo’s budget director, Bob Megna.

Cuomo spoke for about 45 minutes before the business lobby’s board of directors presenting his spending plan. The event included a question-and-answer session.

In a brief interview after the event, Cuomo told me it’s the start of several events he plans to hold around the state to pitch his $142 billion budget, due April 1.

“We did the budget presentation to the Legislature and that went very well,” Cuomo said. “Now we’re talking to groups across the state. We want them to understand what we’re proposing in the budget — Business Council today. We have a very robust tax cut program in the budget that will help drive jobs.”

The budget includes a $2.2 billion tax cut package over the next several years.

Responding to Education Commissioner John King’s statement at a budget hearing earlier that statewide universal pre-Kindergarten would require $1.6 billion annual funding, the governor called all the numbers out there “guesstimates” that will be determined later on.

Cuomo’s proposal would fund pre-K at $1.5 billion over five years. His budget proposal would spend $100 million in the first and phase-in the program, starting with the neediest districts.

“Everybody has numbers and that’s what the budget process is all about,” Cuomo said. “When it comes to what will pre-K cost statewide these are all guesstimates by everyone because no one really knows. It depends on how fast local districts come up to speed on the demand — what is the demand for the pre-K slots. So they are literally just that. They are estimates, I don’t think people really know.”

Cuomo also touted the latest round of unemployment numbers showing a 2 percentage-point drop in joblessness in upstate counties between December 2012 and December 2013.

The jobs news resulted in a joint statement from Cuomo and legislative leaders Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos (Cuomo had lunch with Skelos and Klein at the Executive Mansion earlier in the day, a source told NY1′s Zack Fink).

I asked the governor about the criticism he’s been getting from Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, his potential Republican opponent who at a Conservative Party conference this week said New York was “losing” under the Cuomo administration.

Cuomo shrugged the criticism off.

“We have plenty of time for the silliness of the political season,” he said. “But let’s do the government work.”

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