New York state residents and businesses are stifled from the systemic problem of out-of- control government spending and excessive taxation, which is directly responsible for the heavy burden felt by property taxpayers. The high property taxes in New York are especially difficult for manufacturers who traditionally require large production facilities and warehouse space to operate. Young homeowners often grapple with rising assessment values and senior citizens struggle to keep the homes they worked so hard to own. We have instituted many programs that help ease some of the burden but none solve the root of the problem.
That’s why I am co-sponsoring a new plan called the “Property Taxpayer Protection Act.” This legislation would cap, cut and control spending by introducing new and innovative ideas for true property tax reform. The program would relieve school districts of unfunded mandates; reduce county Medicaid costs; strengthen financial accountability over school tax dollars; promote local government efficiency; and encourage (at local option) insurance pooling.
Many of these new ideas came from the Assembly Minority Conference’s exhaustive effort to tour the state where we have listened to local officials, experts, business owners and homeowners to find ways to reduce taxes and improve our competitive edge, bringing people and jobs back to our state.
This is the first comprehensive proposal that would cut spending across the board and return the savings back to taxpayers in direct property tax cuts. Our legislation provides a foundation from which my legislative colleagues and I can work to reach a feasible solution to the systemic problem of skyrocketing taxes.
The legislation aims at fixing the problem by:
- Preventing school district property tax levies from increasing by more than 4% each year or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, and providing voters with the ability to override this limitation by a 2/3 majority vote.
- Requiring any state mandate that is imposed on a locality and costs more than $10,000 annually (or $1 million statewide) to be funded by the state.
- Requiring the fiscal impact of legislation to be stated before a bill is voted upon by the Legislature.
- Providing 100% reimbursement to schools for costs incurred from 4th and 8th grade Math and English tests, starting in the 2008-09 school year.
- Consolidating school district paperwork requirements, saving time and money.
- Requiring the state to take over the costs of all optional Medicaid services within 5 years, saving $10 billion.
- Providing money for counties to buy software for Medicaid fraud investigations.
- Creating an Office of State Inspector General for Education to investigate financial abuse, corruption and misconduct in schools.
- Encouraging consolidation of local services by providing $30 million in Metro-STAR grants.
In closing, we must continue the dialogue and discussion on these and other ideas in order to find real solutions for the burden of high property taxes that are being placed on the backs of our taxpayers.