Thursday, April 28, 2011

Long Island,New York Property Tax Cap, failure is not an option

The Assembly is stalling, but it's crucial to Cuomo's agenda

For a textbook example of Albany lawmakers stymieing the will of the people, look at what's happening to Gov. Cuomo's property tax cap. Or rather, what's not happening.

Three months and 12 days into Cuomo's term, the tax cap that he made a centerpiece of his landslide campaign is going nowhere fast at the Capitol. The governor's well-designed proposal - which would hold annual increases in property levies at 2% or the inflation rate, whichever is less - whizzed through the Republican-led Senate on Jan. 31. Since then, there's been no hearings, no debate, no sign of serious negotiations and especially no action in the Democrat-led Assembly.

And Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) is clearly in no hurry to move on the issue - even though he claims to support the concept and sponsored Cuomo's bill.

"There's two months left to this session," Silver said when asked about the topic yesterday. "We'll deal with everything at the appropriate time." Cuomo should take that as a warning - that he must light a fire under the Legislature, especially Democrats, or one of his top priorities will fall victim to gridlock.

There can be no question that Cuomo goes into this fight with the political wind at his back.

A Siena College poll released yesterday found that 75% of New Yorkers back his cap - overwhelming support that cuts across regions and party affiliations. When Siena asked registered voters to select a top priority for action in the Legislature this year, the property tax cap was their No. 1 pick.

What's more, Cuomo remains remarkably popular after skillfully maneuvering a budget full of tough cuts to popular programs through a balky Legislature. That gives him all the political capital he needs to succeed on the rest of his agenda.

He also happens to be right: Property taxes really are out of control. The median bill in New York is $3,755 a year, 96% higher than the national median. And on the Tax Foundation's list of counties with the highest property taxes, Westchester, Rockland and Nassau all rank in the top 10.

These levies are forcing upstate and suburban families out of their homes - and doubtless contributing to the state's anemic population growth in the 2010 census. The levies also sap the economy - since for many New York businesses, the property tax is the single biggest tax they pay.

"We have to pass a property tax cap," he said in his inaugural address. "This state has no future if it is going to be the tax capital of the nation."

The concept runs up against adamant opposition from public employee unions, which see tax caps as a threat to their ever-increasing salaries and benefits. And lots of lawmakers are quietly resistant, too, because property taxes fuel their political machines back home.

Still, Silver - paying at least lip service to the tidal wave of popular backing - said the magic words at Cuomo's State of the State ceremony. "We must strive to make our state a more affordable place to live, to work, to raise a family and to own and operate a business," Silver said. "That means working together to cap property taxes."

Of course, he quickly signaled that he would want to weaken Cuomo's plan, plus link the issue to extending and strengthening rent regulation in New York City. Cuomo can't let that happen. His credibility as a reformer is on the line.


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Long Island Property taxes most important issue, say LIers

No surprise here ! To stop this ridiculous rise in property taxes we have to educate our fellow LIers and contact your representative that they should demand Speaker Silver respond to the pleas of homeowners across the state and support a property tax cap in New York. It has already passed the senate but is being stalled in the Assembly by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Also this year we are seeing some enormous rise in property taxes in school districts such as
William Floyd 12.47% and Seaford 8.99%. Some school districts such as Middle country is resorting to blackmailing its residents. The deal for districts residents is either approved a 6.68% increase or the district is going to force 21.61% increase in tax levy.

Published by THOMAS MAIER at Newsday

By a wide margin, property taxes are the most important issue facing Long Islanders, according to a Newsday / News 12 Long Island / Siena Research Institute Poll. Property taxes were cited overall by 45 percent of respondents, more than twice the 21 percent who cited "availability of good jobs" as the second most pressing issue for Long Islanders. "Property taxes are really an issue here because it keeps the young people from staying on Long Island and it will prevent the older people from staying, too," Tafuri explained.

Property taxes also are a large part of why the 57 percent of those polled said Long Islanders are headed in the "wrong direction" rather than the "right track" in the poll. A similar margin said New York State was headed in the wrong direction as well.

Property taxes are a particularly raw issue in Nassau County, where 53 percent cited them as the biggest issue, compared to 36 percent in Suffolk. Islandwide, Republicans and people 55 years or older complained about property taxes the most. "The Democrats love to spend money and they have to get it from the taxpayers," said one poll respondent, a retired Republican who lives on Nassau County's South Shore.

School costs - the biggest part of property tax bills - were also on the minds of Long Islanders who cited "the quality of public schools" among their top concerns. "The first thing I would do is eliminate tenure for teachers in public schools to cut costs," said another poll respondent, a 50-year-old Garden City man who is a Republican and who did not want to give his name. Although he was happy that his two children attending local schools got a good education there, he said his family's property tax bill has been overwhelming.

Property taxes hit a chord with all respondents, regardless of age, race, gender, religion, location or party affiliation. In addition to identifying the most important issue, the poll underlined the intensity of Long Islanders' general feelings about property taxes, with 86 percent calling the issue "very important" and 11 percent as "somewhat important." Crime, schools, good jobs and health care also received strong reactions, with traffic congestion and the local environment getting milder reactions.