Final Budget Includes Property Tax Rebates Favored By Senate

George Winner

March 31, 2007

Albany, N.Y.-- State Senator George H. Winner, Jr. (R-C, Elmira) said today that the final 2007-08 state budgetwill, for most area homeowners, double the amount of last year’s property tax rebate.

That’s because a cornerstone of this year’s budget is an expanded property tax rebate program Winner and his Senate colleagues have been pushing since last December. The rebate program will provide $1.3 billion in new property tax relief to local taxpayers later this year.

"We said from day one that the No. 1 priority of this year’s state budget needed to be ongoing, direct property tax relief," said Winner, noting that last year’s state budget included a Senate-initiated rebate program that provided approximately $875 million in direct property tax relief to New Yorkers.

Local county taxpayers would benefit under this year’s expanded property tax rebate plan in the following ways:

> In Chemung County, the basic tax rebate for the average county taxpayer would rise from last year’s $181 to $362, and for seniors from $303 to $606;

> In Schuyler, the average tax rebate would rise from $156 to $312, and for seniors from $257 to $514;

> In Steuben, the average tax rebate would increase from $168 to $336, and for seniors from $281 to $562;

> In Yates, the average rebate increases from $116 to $232, and for seniors from $194 to $388; and

> In Tompkins, the average rebate jumps from $176 to $352, and for seniors from $294 to $588.

The rebates are in addition to a homeowner’s regular STAR property tax break.

Winner said that the final budget will also include a:

> DairyInvestment Act. At the Senate’s insistence, the budget willprovide $30 million in immediate financial assistance to the state's dairy farmers. The program will be similar to one used byother states includingVermont and provide direct state payments to farmers.

"Upstate dairy farmers are under real pressure, and this year’s budget is going to extend a hand up," said Winner; and

> Universal Broadband Initiative. The final budget will include $5 million to begin what promises to become a widespread and comprehensive effort to expand high-speed Internet service to underserved rural areas -- something that Winner, as chairman of the Legislative Commission on Rural Resources, has been advocating throughout the past year. Winner sponsored a new law in 2006 directing several state agencies to examine strategies for expanding high-speed Internet access to rural and other underserved areas, a report that will help guide New York’s ongoing broadband expansion effort.

"We’re beginning to put in place the foundation for bringing the excitement and prosperity of a high-tech future to rural New York. Rural communities must find a niche in the continued emergence of New York State's high technology industry. We have to focus on building the necessary infrastructure and work force to cement rural New York's place in that future," said Winner.