Long Island Senate Delegation: Governor Spitzer's Budget Bad For Nassau And Suffolk Property Taxpayers

Dean G. Skelos

February 09, 2007

Long Island’s State Senate Delegation today held a press conference with a Mineola family to discuss the negative impact of Governor Spitzer’s Executive Budget on local property taxpayers. The Governor’s proposed budget shortchanges Long Island schools by $68 million and raises property taxes for hundreds of thousands of Nassau and Suffolk County homeowners.

Last year, Long Island homeowners saved over $700 million through the School Property Tax Relief ("STAR") program and received $210 million in school tax rebate checks from the state. The Governor’s Executive Budget eliminates the rebate check program that benefited every homeowner and excludes families with household incomes of $80,001, or more, from fully benefiting from his property tax relief plan.

Currently, Long Island’s median household income exceeds this unfair threshold and the Governor’s plan will raise property taxes for nearly 200,000 homeowners in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In comparison, the Long Island Senate Delegation’s plan provides two and half times the new property tax relief included in the Governor’s budget proposal ($2 billion vs. $800 million), quadruples the state rebate checks and helps every homeowner.

In addition, the Governor’s Executive Budget reduces the share of total state school aid received by schools in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Traditionally, Long Island’s schools have received 13% of all state school aid. The Governor’s proposed budget reduces Long Island’s share of new state aid to 8%. As compared to the amount they would have received under their traditional 13% share, the Executive Budget shortchanges Nassau and Suffolk school districts by $68 million. Through the Governor’s proposed budget, the Mineola School District would experience a 1.04% reduction in total state aid from last year’s State Budget.

In comparison, the Executive Budget raises New York City’s share of new state school aid from 38% to 46%. Because of this shift from Long Island to New York City, school districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties will receive an average state aid increase of 5%, while New York City’s schools will receive nearly 10% more state aid than last year.

Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) said, "The Governor’s budget is simply a bad deal for Long Island. It steals $68 million dollars from our schools and it raises property taxes for hundreds of thousands of Long Island homeowners. Long Islanders need property tax relief and the Governor has delivered nothing but empty promises. Our delegation will stand up for Long Island taxpayers and fight for the school aid property tax relief we deserve."

Senator Owen Johnson (R-West Babylon) said, "The Governor’s plan leaves too many middle-class Long Island families out in the cold with little or no meaningful property tax relief. The Senate’s property tax relief plan would quadruple the STAR property tax rebate checks for every homeowner. I will work to ensure that Long Island homeowners get the property tax relief they deserve."

Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said, "The Governor’s school aid proposal focuses heavily on urban areas and does not adequately address the needs of suburban and rural communities. Under his school aid plan, the $1.4 billion increase in state aid is not distributed equitably and falls far short of what Long Island needs to provide a quality education at a price that taxpayers can afford."

Senator Caesar Trunzo (R-Brentwood) said, "My number one priority will be to continue providing property tax relief to Long Island's hard working families and senior citizens. The Senate has proposed over $2 billion in new property tax relief initiatives and my colleagues and I in the Long Island Senate Delegation will fight to reduce the high cost of living in the communities we represent."

Senator Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) said, "The Governor’s school aid plan deprives Long Island’s hardworking taxpayers and their children of $68 million they deserve. Stripping away the rebate checks and giving Long Island’s share of the taxpayer’s money over to New York City’s schools is not just. Our property tax plan saves more money for more people than the Governor’s proposal."

Senator Carl Marcellino (R-Syosset) said, "We are at a crossroads. We simply cannot continue to foot the bill for the rest of the state. Enough is enough. Either we join together and stand up for our cities, towns and villages from Montauk to Valley Stream or watch as the Governor’s proposed state budget erodes our quality of life. My mind is made up. I'm fighting for Long Island."

Senator Charles J. Fuschillo, Jr. (R-Merrick) said, "My number one priority remains delivering property tax relief to Long Islanders. We have proposed a plan that would put hundreds of dollars in tax savings into the hands of Long Island families by quadrupling the size of last year’s rebate program. This enhanced rebate would be addition to their STAR program savings. The Governor’s proposed budget has eliminated the much needed property tax rebate plan and cut Long Island's educational aid share to 8% of his proposed educational aid funding for the state. These cuts are unacceptable and we will continue to fight to ensure that Long Island residents receive the property tax relief they deserve."

Senator John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said, "The days of pitting the so-called rich Long Island homeowners against the rest of the state are over and this administration must work with us to provide a budget that respects that fact. The quality of Long Island education is high because our parents support their schools and they should not be asked to shoulder any more of the burden. By submitting a plan that reduces many Long Islanders’ access to much needed tax relief and provides the bare minimum to our students, Governor Spitzer is taking a poor first-step in this process and it is one that we will not accept."