Bonacic: Legislature Has Five Weeks To Tackle Property Tax Reform

John J. Bonacic

June 16, 2008

State Senator John Bonacic (R/I/C – <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Mt. Hope), today said the Assembly and Senate must make tax reform a priority and act to provide New Yorkers with substantial property tax relief within the next five weeks. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn its regular Session on June 23rd.

<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The Senate has passed legislation in 2006 and 2007 which would allow school districts to phase out of the property tax currently charged to homeowners to fund local school operations, the most costly of New Yorkers property tax bills. Unfortunately, the Assembly continues to block real reform and to date has failed to vote on any school property tax reform legislation.

In early June, the Commission on Property Tax Reform, formed by former Governor Eliot Spitzer to examine the issue of a school property tax cap, is expected to call either for a property tax cap, or an expanded “circuit breaker” law, or both.

A property tax cap would limit the growth in property taxes to an estimated 3% per year. An expanded circuit breaker law would refund a portion of the property taxes paid by middle income New Yorkers. The circuit breaker measure alone, however, does not have any provision to control local school spending and could produce the unintended results similar to the STAR program. In fact, while the STAR program does reduce taxes a little, schools continue to spend more each year.

“We need a willing partner to do property tax reform. To date, the Assembly refused to be a willing partner. The Assembly has refused to vote for the bill the Senate has passed and refused to consider other property tax reform legislation,” Senator Bonacic said.

Some in the State Legislature are pushing for higher income taxes to help fund a “circuit breaker”. Under one proposal being considered, income taxes would be raised on high income individuals in order to give a larger property tax credit to other families. “The last thing we need to do is impose more taxes on New Yorkers. The State needs to learn to control spending just as homeowners do. Higher taxes are not the answer.”

“Taxpayers are sick and tired of the Assembly stalling on property tax reform. I urge the Assembly to join the Senate, vote on property tax reform, convene immediate conference committees to work out differences, and then vote on a final product before the Legislature goes home in late June. New Yorkers need relief now,” concluded Senator Bonacic.