Senator Oppenheimer Supports Property Tax Relief For Seniors And Working Families

Suzi Oppenheimer

January 31, 2007

State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) today expressed disappointment that two progressive property tax measures, recently introduced as amendments by Senate Democrats, were rejected by the Senate's Majority.

"Once again, we had a real opportunity to target tax relief to those who need it most -- primarily senior citizens and middle-class working families-- and once again our measures landed on deaf ears," Senator Oppenheimer said.

TwoSenate Minorityproperty tax measures had been offered as amendments to a proposal offered by Senate Republicans (S.1-A). The Majority rejected both.

"Our state's crushing property tax burden forces many hardworking and retired New Yorkers to pull up stakes and leave," said Senator Oppenheimer. "First and foremost, my Senate Minority colleagues and I understand that property taxes must be levied more equitably. When it comes down to it, our proposals, which would have provided significant tax relief for seniors and middle-class New Yorkers, address the fundamental issue of fairness."

Senator Oppenheimer said the amendments, if enacted, would have addressed at least some of the inequities in the State's property tax system. Specifically, one would have expanded the Real Property Tax Credit for seniors, which overcomes the regressive nature of property taxes by increasing the maximum credit amount for senior citizens from $375 to $1,125. This credit, which has not been increased for more than 30 years, would have been raised from $75 to $225 for other qualifying New Yorkers as well.

The secondSenate Minorityamendment called for expanding the personal income tax credit-- currently allowed only to New York City renters-- to the entire state, providing tax relief to renters in suburban regions where property tax hikes have dramatically driven up rental costs. Over one million families statewide who rent their housing would be helped by this proposal, as would more than 500,000 seniors.

Senator Oppenheimer said her Conference's tax-fighting proposals are part of a larger, ongoing effort to bring fiscal relief to all New Yorkers.

"New Yorkers have given us, their lawmakers, a perfectly clear directive: ‘Lighten our load,’ "Senator Oppenheimer concluded. "Senate Democrats were deeply disappointed that the Republican Majority chose to ignore the pressing needs of seniors and working families. In this era of sweeping reform, citizens demand a fresh perspective, new ideas, and intelligent solutions. Indeed, my SenateMinority colleagues and I look forward to working closely with the Spitzer administration to reform state government, especially with an eye towards fixing the inequities and failed policies of the past."