Contact: Phil Oliva, (518) 455-3756
For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Assembly Minority Members Announce Property Tax Relief Plan
Proposal would save homes across the state

Assembly Minority Leader James N. Tedisco and members of his conference today announced a comprehensive plan to reduce New York's property tax burden. Saving Our Homes - The Assembly Minority Property Tax Relief Plan includes enhancements to the STAR Program, including STAR Excelsior and a Co-STAR program, additional reforms to prevent waste and fraud in the Medicaid system, and other measures aimed at keeping more tax dollars in the pockets of hard-working New Yorkers. The new proposals would save the average homeowner $715 annually, and the average senior citizen homeowner $1,256 each year.

"High property taxes have a crippling effect on homeowners across the state," said Leader Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady, Saratoga). "The plan we put forth today would provide immediate relief, but it could also do much more. If enacted, it would save property taxpayers millions of dollars in the future."

The STAR Program has proven successful in providing school tax relief, but it has not kept pace with the current costs of property taxes and home values. The newly-proposed STAR Excelsior program would provide $1.75 billion in additional tax relief by immediately indexing the Basic and Enhanced STAR exemptions to the current median housing value. As a result, homeowners would see their current STAR exemptions rise by 70 percent. The new Co-STAR program would provide an additional $287 million in property tax rebates for seniors and farmers.

"It is imperative that we seize this opportunity to build upon the solid foundation of the original STAR program," said Assemblyman Chris Ortloff (R,I,C-Plattsburgh). "As the cost of living inevitably increases, we need to do all we can to keep New Yorkers in the homes they have worked so hard to purchase. This plan is essential to alleviating the property tax burden."

Fraud, waste, and abuse within the Medicaid system also put a tremendous burden on New York taxpayers - to the tune of nearly $4.5 billion annually. Saving Our Homes calls for Medicaid fraud recovery and reporting legislation, strengthening the Office of Medicaid Inspector General, and allowing counties to return savings they achieve by eliminating waste and fraud to property taxpayers.

"Medicaid costs are consistently one of the most exorbitant drains on county resources. As a result, localities have no choice but to raise taxes," said Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro). "These reforms would greatly reduce those costs and save taxpayers a tremendous amount of money."

"The new Assembly Minority Task Force on Medicaid Waste, Fraud and Abuse, which I proudly chair, will soon begin traveling around the state seeking suggestions on how we can improve the system and continue to provide necessary medical services to those who can't afford them," said Assemblyman Thomas O'Mara (R,C-Horseheads). "Armed with that information, Task Force members will craft legislation to help provide real relief to our localities and taxpayers while keeping the Medicaid system in place."

Unfunded mandates placed on local governments and school districts require these taxing jurisdictions to increase their tax levies on property owners. To stop this burden, Assembly Minority members believe any state mandate imposed on a municipality or school district that costs more than $10,000 a year, or has a statewide additional cost of $1 million, should be funded by the state.

"Unfunded mandates create a devastating and unfair drain on our local governments and schools," said Assemblyman James Conte (R,C-Huntington Station). "The reforms we proposed today would right the ship so that local real property taxpayers would no longer have to foot the bill for these costs."

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