Albany, NY, May 31, 2011 — The push for a state mandated cap on local property taxes gained steam last week. A plan proposed by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver earned praise from Governor Cuomo and conditional approval from the state Senate.
Like Governor Cuomo, the Assembly Democrats want a 2% across the board cap on school and local government taxes. But they would exempt some costs, like some pension expenses that rise beyond local control. And Speaker Silver says he'd like the cap to sunset after a few years.
The conceptual agreement was praised by business groups, including the state's Business Council, who say it will "dramatically improve the business climate in the state." But the tentative agreement is criticized by those who will have to craft budgets within its limits.
The New York State Association of Counties is focusing on what was left out last week: mandate relief. Executive Director Stephen Acquario said it was "disingenuous" to reach a quick accord on limiting local property taxes without including mandate relief.
The organization has proposed its own fix--a state takeover of all local Medicaid expenses. NYSAC envisions the cost would be offset by state Medicaid reform, and by federal funding through the Health Care Reform Act. But between the 57 counties and New York City, that total amounts to $7.5 billion. Acquario told Martha Foley it's doable.