With just 19 official legislative days remaining in this year's session of the New York State Assembly, there is a great deal of work still needing completion - and little time to get it all done. Topping the to-do list are issues such as strengthening New York's ethics laws, getting a private sector job creation plan in place, and delivering unfunded mandate relief to local governments and school districts. All of these issues should be acted upon, no excuses.
However, of the many items remaining on Albany's must-do list this session, probably none is as important, or pressing, as finally getting a property tax cap in place so we can deliver real relief to homeowners. With nine of the ten highest-taxed counties (as a percentage of home value) located here in upstate, and property taxes in New York being nearly double the national average, it is ridiculous that we don't already have a cap in place. The Assembly Minority Conference has been continually pushing this issue since 2007 and, after years of delay and foot dragging by the Assembly Majority, the end zone is finally in sight.
MY MESSAGE TO GOVERNOR CUOMO: LET TAXPAYERS KNOW WHO ACTUALLY SUPPORTS THE PROPERTY TAX CAP - AND WHO DOESN'T
In order to help us make the property tax cap happen - and give this issue one final, big push this session - Governor Andrew Cuomo will be embarking on a statewide tour to build support for enactment of a property tax cap, and some of the other unfinished business that I referenced in this column's opening. I publicly said that the Governor's announcement of his traveling the state to generate support for the property tax cap was welcome news. I appreciate everything the Governor has done to support our Conference's efforts to make the property tax cap a top priority, not next year, or during some future session, but this year, this session.
I also said that the Governor should make it perfectly clear to all New York taxpayers who actually supports the property tax cap - and who doesn't. Our Conference supports the property tax cap and is already on record as voting for the Governor's Property Tax Cap Program Bill. In fact, on April 11, our Conference offered the Governor's bill - the very same legislation that the Senate Majority passed back on January 31 - as an amendment to the Majority's rent regulation legislation.
Even though all 51 Members of our Conference supported the property tax cap amendment, the Majority defeated it during a procedural vote. In short, the Majority voted against the tax cap.
THE RECORD IS CLEAR: THE ASSEMBLY MINORITY CONFERENCE SUPPORTS THE CAP
Without question, the legislative record, the voting record, and the public record are crystal clear: The Assembly Minority Conference has been pushing for an up-or-down vote on the property tax cap since we first introduced the "New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act" (A.3897) back in 2007. Ever since then, the Majority has kept our tax cap bill bottled up in Committee. Adding further insult to injury, the Majority has done the EXACT SAME THING with Governor Cuomo's property tax cap bill. As I write this column, the Governor's legislation remains held in the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, captive to the Majority's refusal to deal with New York's property tax crisis. Isn't it time for an end to these foolish political games and for Majority Members to support our efforts to deliver real property tax relief? I think so.
GOVERNOR CUOMO NEEDS TO GIVE THE PEOPLE THE FACTS
The Governor needs to mention all of these facts whenever he speaks with fed-up homeowners forced to endure some of the nation's highest property taxes. New York has never been closer to having a property tax cap; in the Assembly, we are literally just 25 votes away from the tax cap passing. If 25 Members of the Majority were to set partisan politics aside and join with our Members, New York State would finally have a tax cap - and homeowners would finally see some relief! If the Governor takes my advice and gives the people these facts, I am confident the property tax cap will pass this session.
THANK YOU TO AMERICA'S BRAVEST!
Every American will always remember where they were the night of Sunday, May 1, 2011 when the news first broke that our courageous Armed Forces had eliminated the world's number one terrorist, Osama bin Laden. Words cannot begin to express the gratitude, thanks and appreciation that I, and all Americans, have for our heroic Special Forces and intelligence personnel who made the daring raid and put an end to Osama bin Laden's murderous reign of terror. While we may never know the names of the soldiers who got Osama bin Laden, we can still say "thank you" and applaud their courage, fortitude and skill. Job well done!
PLEASE DON'T FORGET: MY "TELE-TOWN HALL" IS MAY 18
By this column's publication, my Tele-Town Hall meeting will likely be just a few days away. Remember, you can take part in the conversation on Wednesday, May 18, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., by calling 1-877-229-8493 and entering PIN number 17906 when prompted. If you want to ask me a question during the Q&A period, press "zero" on your telephone. I'm looking forward to speaking with residents on May 18 and having a great conversation about what we can do to make New York State an even better place to live, work and raise a family.
As always, constituents wishing to discuss this topic, or any other state-related matter should contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.