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Governor is hoping public will stand up against Legislature

2011-05-10T20:33:00Z Governor is hoping public will stand up against LegislatureThe Associated Press The Associated Press
May 10, 2011 8:33 pm  • 

ALBANY - Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that he’s facing “fierce” opposition to his proposed property tax cap in Albany and needs New Yorkers to issue an ultimatum to their elected officials: Pass it or “don’t come home.”

The message was released in a video that Cuomo and his aides will repeat in a statewide tour on his policy goals, which also include ethics reform and legalizing gay marriage. Cuomo said, however, that his property tax cap plan is “job one.” Meanwhile, opponents called Cuomo’s cap a political mirage that benefits the wealthy at the expense of school children.

“The people are going to have to overpower the lobbyists,” Cuomo said. “The peoples’ voice wins in a democracy. But the peoples’ voice must be heard ... tell your elected representatives in Albany that enough is enough. Pass the tax cap now or don’t come home.”

Back in Albany, a broad coalition including teachers and other public workers’ unions, the League of Women Voters and other good-government groups urged the Legislature to alter Cuomo’s proposal. The Omnibus Consortium said a “hard” property tax cap of 2 percent growth a year will hurt schools and local social services while not providing tax relief to those who need it most. The group wants a “circuit breaker” that would factor in taxpayers’ incomes to drive more tax relief to middle and lower income New Yorkers, and less to wealthier property owners to continue what the group considers adequate funding for schools and local government services and their workers.

“The simplest solution to a problem is not always the most effective,” said Bill Samuels, founder of the government reform group called the New Roosevelt Initiative. “Overburdened taxpayers with limited incomes need personal property tax relief now. And woe to the politician who supports this rhetorically popular, but ill-conceived, tax cap when their constituents open their next tax bill and find no relief.”

Gioia Shebar of the group Tax Nightmare says Cuomo’s cap is a gift to corporate taxpayers.

“The discredited cap doesn’t meet any need but for politicians to look busy,” Shebar said. “Our inequitable, chaotic tax system — which cries out for reform — has resulted in that classic moment when panicked leaders say, ‘Shut up and drink the Kool-Aid,’” Shebar said Tuesday.

Cuomo stopped at Syracuse’s Onondaga Community College Tuesday to kick off the tour scheduled to continue through the final weeks of the legislative session, which ends in late June. Cuomo is expected to focus on the property tax in upstate stops and on Long Island, where the issue has long been a priority of residents. The gay marriage bill he favors is expected to continue to be an issue in New York City, where support has been strongest in polls.

He will walk a fine line by going into local markets to pressure lawmakers without antagonizing the Legislature. Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s similar effort in 2007 resulted in gridlock.

Cuomo is also expected to push for his ethics reform measure, which is being negotiated with legislative leaders in closed-door sessions. No bill or draft has yet been released for the measure, which would be aimed at forcing greater disclosure of income and higher standards for lawmakers.

The popular Democrat’s cap proposal would limit the growth in local property taxes, already among the highest in the nation, to 2 percent annually or the rate of inflation, whichever is less. Local voters could override the cap with a 60-percent vote. A few exemptions of unforeseeable expenses could also suspend the cap.

“The cap will put the odds in favor of the taxpayer, because the deck has been stacked against the taxpayers for too long,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo said local government and school property taxes rose 73 percent over the last decade, more than double the inflation rate. That forces people from their homes and stymies job growth, he

said.

The Republican-led Senate has already passed Cuomo’s proposal, but is refusing to negotiate what its members would consider a weakening of the measure. Cuomo’s bill is sponsored in the Democrat-led Assembly by Speaker Sheldon Silver, but it hasn’t moved any closer to a floor vote and the Democrats from New York City who lead the chamber are being pressured by teacher unions that oppose the cap.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(7) Comments

  1. Kreg
    Report Abuse
    Kreg - May 11, 2011 2:28 pm
    A property tax cap is not even better than nothing. My taxes are way too high. What good is limiting the rate increase going to do for my taxes that are through the roof? We need to eliminate 75% of the legislators and their staff, get rid of the unions (both state workers and teachers), reduce government by 75%, consolidate schools and cut them back to the basics.
  2. cg57
    Report Abuse
    cg57 - May 11, 2011 9:38 am
    A property tax cap, although sounding like a solution to the problem, is not actually. All that it will guarantee it what the rate of increase will be. Plus, as its structured, its just the limit on the rate, not the overall tax. The towns and state can play around with the assessments to get more taxes. Say the rate is limited to 3% increase, but they need 5% to balance the budget. Rather than cutting to make it balance, they can just increase everyone's assessment by that extra 2%. Net effect, your taxes go up the 5%, not the 3%. What needs to be done is a cap on the level of appropriations in the budgeting process, that will limit the overall growth rate of spending. But we really need is spending to go down, consolidate services, eliminate layers of government. In order to do that, we the citizens also need to be willing to accept less in the way of services. Can the transfer stations would be a good place to start, and offload Pleasant Valley.
  3. dennis
    Report Abuse
    dennis - May 11, 2011 7:05 am
    Property tax caps are a band-aid solution.We need to rethink the way taxes for these services are levied.What good is a cap if one is already at the breaking point? A good place to start is getting rid of deadwood like sheldon silver.He's as dishonest as bruno,just sharper.These parasites in albany and their cronies in the unions need to be dealt with.If property owners in this state,even those who feed at the trough,don't demand change we get what we deserve and those that can will leave this pathetic state.Call,write,send letters just do something.And that applies too right here in our backyard with the local common councils and school boards.Taxpayers need to unite just like the unions to fight back.
  4. Rieux
    Report Abuse
    Rieux - May 11, 2011 6:05 am
    A lot of people are moving out of New York State because they can't afford the taxes. If this trend keeps up there won't be anybody left to tax.
  5. retired
    Report Abuse
    retired - May 10, 2011 9:42 pm
    Both democrat and republican legislators both state and federal have been dismissing what the public wants, and are pushing their own agenda, and that of the lobbyists. We can and should hold them accountable, whenever we see them, at primaries, and on election day. I have said before, and will say again vote the incumbents out, and replace them with new blood, and keep this up until we get legislators in that will do our bid.
  6. verysad
    Report Abuse
    verysad - May 10, 2011 9:22 pm
    When those teachers picket tell them not to drag little kids out of school! We should not listen to their whining that this is for the good of children because they are only thinking of their own PAYCHECKS, BENEFITS AND PENSION. Look at SeethroughNY.com to see how expensive of a burden these people have become to New York State.
  7. verysad
    Report Abuse
    verysad - May 10, 2011 8:49 pm
    I do not work for a school nor do I work for the state, so I can say this and mean it. YES! YES! YES! Do a property tax cap please. This will allow old retired people to afford something besides cat food to eat in their later years. GO GRANDMA!

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