Senator Flanagan's Rebate Ny Increase Passes Senate

John J. Flanagan

January 24, 2007

Senator John Flanagan (2nd Senate District) announced Senate passage of a three-part plan that would provide taxpayers with needed tax relief this year and allow for greater public input in the future. As part of Senator Flanagan's continuing effort to reduce the property tax burden, this legislation would increase the Senate-initiated Rebate NY property tax relief rebate program to provide $2.6 billion in property tax relief this year and $3.4 billion in 2008.

The legislation would also give voters greater input on local property tax rates and establish a Blue Ribbon Commission to develop reforms to help reduce property taxes.

"My number one goal remains reducing the tax burden that Long Islanders face and this legislation is squarely aimed at accomplishing that goal. The reality is that Long Island homeowners, especially senior citizens, are struggling with the ever increasing burden of property taxes and they deserve greater relief," stated Senator Flanagan. "This plan delivers increased property tax relief to directly where it is needed and, more importantly, empowers all taxpayers to have a clear voice in this process," said Senator Flanagan.

The three-part Senate property tax relief plan includes:

TRIPLE PROPERTY TAX REBATE CHECKS -- REBATE PLUS - In 2006, rebate checks received by Suffolk County homeowners averaged $231 for those who were eligible for Basic School Tax Relief (STAR) and $375 for those who were eligible for the Enhanced STAR benefits.

Under the legislation Senator Flanagan supports, those levels would increase significantly within two years. In 2007, the average for a Basic STAR homeowner in Suffolk County would receive a check averaging $694 and that would increase to $925 in 2008.

For the senior homeowner who is eligible for the Enhanced STAR benefit, the increased benefit would average $1,125 in 2007 and $1,499 in 2008.

These increases would triple the current rebate/credit program across the state in 2007 and would approximately quadruple it in 2008. The program, which delivered approximately $875 million in tax relief last year, would provide $6 billion in the next two years.

VOTER INITIATED TAX RATE LIMITS -This proposal would give voters a greater say in local tax rates by allowing them to collect signatures to limit the growth in the local school and municipal tax rates. If a sufficient number of signatures are collected, a proposition would be placed on the ballot at the next school budget vote. The petition would set the type of limits on the tax rate. If approved, the limits on increasing the tax rate would be in effect for one year.

BLUE RIBBON COMMISSION ON PROPERTY TAX REFORM - The Senate’s property tax relief plan would establish a Blue Ribbon Commission to examine and make recommendations on specific areas of reforms for local governments and school systems with the goal of reducing the property tax burden in New York State.

The Commission will report at the end of calendar year 2007 on a reform plan for schools and local governments to lower local tax burdens with a focus on enhanced accountability, alternative financing methods, governance options, property assessment plans, and tax containment policies. The Commission would also be charged with examining possible alternatives to the real property tax for funding schools and changes to the property assessment system.

Members to the eleven-member Commission would be appointed as follows: three each by the Senate Majority Leader, the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and one by each of the Minority Leaders.

"This plan benefits all areas of New York State fairly and strives to make sure that all taxpayers have a fair say in the process. This money is not state money - it is the taxpayers money and the taxpayers must have a greater say," concluded Senator Flanagan.

The bill has been sent to the Assembly for action.