Senate Votes Again On Property Tax Reform

John J. Bonacic

December 09, 2008

State Senator John Bonacic (Mount Hope) urged the State Assembly to join the Senate in acting on property tax reform legislation. Despite the fact that the Republican led Senate has voted three years in a row on property tax reform, the Democrat dominated Assembly has refused to vote even once to reform New York’s broken school property tax system.

Many Hudson Valley area Assembly Democrats even sponsor bills that are sent to die in committee with no real effort, even on the part of the bill sponsor to bring them to a vote. “Assemblymembers who sponsor bills and don’t even ask for a vote on them, are not fighting for change but rather faking for politics. They need to bring these property tax reform measures up for a vote – no more excuses,” Bonacic said.

The Senate voted today on measures including a property tax cap and mandate relief, Senate bills 8736 and 8737. The Senate has already passed legislation (S.8522), co-authored by Senator Bonacic, which would allow school districts to phase out the property tax homeowners pay to operate local schools over a period of five years. The State would be required to increase its share of education aid to make up the lost property tax revenue.

“In Ulster County, one local Assemblymember has voted to make Sheldon Silver the Assembly Speaker ten times, but has not voted once for property tax reform. How is that representing the people of the Hudson Valley?” Bonacic asked.

Bonacic indicated he supported the tax cap plan as a starting point, but believes in enacting policies based on one’s ability to pay, including the circuit breaker bill. “A tax cap will encourage accountability and slow the growth of escalating property taxes. However, I also believe we need to drive property taxes down – as the Senate has voted to do three times, not just limit the growth of an already broken system.”

Senator Bonacic continued, “In addition to the tax cap plan, the Senate has voted for and approved mandate relief legislation (S.8737), which I am a sponsor of.” Bonacic also co-sponsors legislation (S.1053-b) to enact a “circuit breaker.” The circuit breaker would rebate a portion of property taxes paid by middle income homeowners who pay a disproportionate share of their income to school property taxes.

“Property tax reform is achievable if only the Assembly would vote. Governor Paterson and the Senate are working together with the sole obstacle being the Speaker of the Assembly and those members who lack the courage to challenge him. We needed property tax reform years ago, and we surely need it now,” concluded Bonacic.