Leader Brian Kolb: We Agree With Governor Paterson, The Assembly Majority Needs To Hold An Up-Or-Down Vote On A Property Tax Cap And Other Unfinished Business

Kolb says taxpayers should not be forced to wait until October, they deserve an immediate up-or-down vote on a property tax cap so people know where their representatives really stand on tax relief and other issues
August 5, 2010

Seizing on Governor David Paterson and Senate Majority Conference Leader John Sampson’s public comments in support of a property tax cap and the Majorities’ holding up-or-down votes, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) today pressed the Assembly Majority to finally bring a tax cap to the floor for an up-or-down vote when the Assembly returns to Albany.

“A May, 2010 Siena Research Institute poll found a majority of taxpayers strongly support a property tax cap, and for good reason: New York homeowners pay property taxes that are 79 percent above the national average and, from 2000 to 2009, school property tax levies increased by 84 percent,” Kolb said.

“The high cost of property taxes is crushing homeowners and killing our state’s quality of life. The time for a tax cap is NOW – the Assembly Majority should not make taxpayers wait for Governor Paterson to bring us back in October. We should reconvene immediately and take up, and pass, a property tax cap as our first order of business,” said Kolb.

“For the past several years, the Assembly Minority has continually introduced property tax cap legislation and called for an up-or-down vote. Taxpayers want it. Members of our Minority Conference want it. Governor Paterson wants it. The State Senate already passed it. All of the candidates for governor, from both parties, want it. It is time for the Assembly Majority to ‘get it’ and finally act,” Kolb said.

Kolb and the Assembly Minority introduced Assembly Bill A.2796, the “New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act,” back in 2007. The tax cap measure would limit the growth of local school levies to four percent annually or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. When implemented, the initiative would deliver billions in real property tax relief for homeowners and local school districts. Over 74 municipalities across New York State have already gone on record in support of the Assembly Minority’s legislation.

Kolb cited Governor Paterson’s comments to Gannett News Albany Bureau Chief Joseph Spector on Wednesday in support of holding a vote on a property tax cap: “Yes, it is an election year but the voters deserve to know where Albany stands on property taxes… I don’t think that the power of (legislative) leadership should be exerted not to give popular legislation a fair hearing.”

Additionally, Kolb pointed to Senate Majority Conference Leader John Sampson’s call for Majorities’ to hold up-or-down votes during his Wednesday interview with Elizabeth Benjamin on Capital Tonight: “This is about democracy… Just because we may not like it, or disagree with the issue, does not mean we owe it to the people that elected us to bring those issues to the floor… This is what Democracy is about.”

“The facts are clear: Members of our Assembly Minority Conference have championed property tax cap legislation for years, only to run into roadblock after roadblock put up by an Assembly Majority who opposes the cap. Massachusetts has a tax cap, and California has had its tax cap in place since 1978 – but the Assembly Majority has not held a single floor vote on New York having a tax cap. That’s outrageous and a slap in the face to every overtaxed homeowner throughout our state,” Kolb said.

“However, the terrain has shifted and I believe there is real momentum – and the first real chance in a very long time – that we could finally have an up-or-down vote on a property tax cap when the Assembly returns for session. If property tax cap legislation were brought to the floor for an up-or-down vote, I believe it would pass,” Kolb stated.

“At the very least, taxpayers will see which Members are serious about delivering real property tax relief. We need to hold this vote as quickly as possible so we can get a property tax cap law on the books – and give struggling homeowners a glimmer of hope that real relief is finally on the way,” Kolb said.

Kolb said that in addition to a property tax cap, other issues that also should be brought to the floor for up-or-down votes when the Assembly returns to Albany include:

  • State spending cap;
  • SUNY Empowerment Plan;
  • “Energize New York” Program;
  • Comprehensive ethics reform;
  • Banning unfunded mandates; and
  • Enacting a statewide economic development plan.