The Remarks Of Speaker Sheldon Silver

Leaders Meeting
Red Room - Capitol
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver discussed property tax rates in communities throughout the state at a public leaders meeting. Silver said that in the closing weeks of the Legislative session, the Assembly was committed to passing legislation to provide tax relief for homeowners.
I want to thank you Governor for calling this meeting and continue to focus on how we can provide more relief to local property taxpayers.

As I said at our last meeting, the Assembly believes we need to both provide relief directly to local taxpayers and help local governments control costs through mandate relief and consolidation of inefficient and overlapping units of government.

Last year the Assembly - in bipartisan fashion - passed legislation to provide middle class property tax relief. Our circuit breaker cap would have provided more than $1.5 billion in direct relief to middle class and working families who need it most.

It was founded on some basic principles, namely that the tax relief we provide be immediate, comprehensive and fair:

Immediate - Income based tax relief can take effect right away.

Comprehensive - It addressed not only the school property tax burden, but all other property tax burdens like county and town, village and special districts.

Fair - it included owners and renters. It included people who live in dependent school districts which is a significant part of New York's population. And it was income based, so we help those who need it most. Up to 90% of the property tax relief would have gone to homeowners earning less than $90,000 a year.

We continue to believe that this approach is the foundation for finally tackling New York's sky high property taxes.

But dealing with our property tax crisis is about more than providing direct relief - it's also about helping local governments cut down on costs.

As I said last week, we believe that that starts by reducing unnecessary and outdated layers of local government through consolidation.

I have been working directly with the Attorney General as I mentioned last week. I spent the last two days, last Thursday and again Monday, two of the last five days, actually in direct negotiation with the Attorney General. We are set to introduce legislation that I believe could reduce local property taxes between 5-22% in towns throughout the state.

Reducing those unnecessary layers of government can lower spending and put money back in the hands of property tax payers and I believe it should be a priority for all of us in the remaining weeks of this legislative session.

I am delighted that Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who I have spoken to about this legislation - I've outlined it for him and with him - has agreed to join me in introducing this bill in the Assembly. It will be a bipartisan bill that we all believe is necessary in order to make consolidation a reality.

I want to thank you again for your focus and your leadership on New York's property tax crisis and look forward to a productive dialogue this morning and into the future that leads to concrete steps to tackle the problem.