Lifton Sponsors Local Taxpayer Relief Act of 2004

Legislation would save counties up to $560 million, help relieve property tax burden
March 26, 2004

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D-Tompkins/Cortland) announced she is sponsoring the Local Taxpayer Relief Act of 2004 to help relieve the property tax burden on New Yorkers by capping the amount counties must pay for certain Medicaid services (A.9924). The bill ensures that counties receive their current Medicaid funding and the state would be responsible for any additional costs – saving counties up to $560 million in the first year alone.

"Over the past two years, counties statewide have raised property taxes an average of 22 percent and 23 counties raised their sales taxes – primarily because of escalating Medicaid costs," Lifton said. "It’s time to stop this runaway train and put money back into the pockets of hard-working property-taxpayers."

Lifton said the Medicaid budget in Cortland County is expected to be over $10 million this year – or about 45 percent of all property taxes collected. Tompkins County faces a Medicaid bill of over $9.7 million this year – a jump of almost $2.2 million from last year.

"Medicaid provides quality health care for many Cortland and Tompkins county residents," Lifton said, "But we can’t have property-taxpayers paying more and more each year for this service. The Local Taxpayer Relief Act of 2004 will curb rising Medicaid costs and help relieve the tax burden on our hard-working families and seniors."

Assembly pushes for Medicaid relief

Lifton said the Assembly Majority has long supported relieving local governments of rising Medicaid costs.

"Had the governor gone along with the Assembly’s proposals to have the state assume a larger share of Medicaid and the full non-federal share of Family Health Plus, local governments would have saved nearly $1 billion since 1995," Lifton said. "After a decade of prodding by the Assembly, the governor finally proposed in his executive budget a 10-year takeover of long-term care – but it will save counties less than 1 percent of their Medicaid costs this year."

This lack of leadership from the governor didn’t stop the Assembly from passing a law last year that provided Medicaid relief for localities across the state – including Tompkins and Cortland counties. For Tompkins County, the relief meant over $1.17 million in savings, while Cortland County saved over $600,000.