Governor Spitzerís 2008 State of the State laid out many bold initiatives, such as his energy reduction goal of 15X15, whereby the state would lower energy use over 15 percent by the year 2015. This is a worthy goal, although he did not mention other important initiatives I support, such as lowering the gasoline tax or cost of home electricity.
For Long Island, property tax relief heads the list of concerns and though the Governor discussed studying property tax caps, he neglected to elaborate on how he would specifically deliver the tax relief Long Islanders and New Yorkers desperately need. Although it was disappointing that his speech, instead, focused on the announcement that he will create a new commission to study how to provide tax relief, I was pleased that Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi will be heading this commission. Hopefully, now that property taxes are on the State Executiveís agenda, Long Island will see some meaningful relief.
I applaud the Governorís support of instating a property tax cap, a measure that I have legislation on and strongly support. I also support the Governorís statement that his 2008 budget proposal will not include any new taxes. However, this was said last year and even though they were not called ďtax increases,Ē the 2007 budget called for hundreds of millions in new spending.
The time has come for all sectors in government to slow down their ever-growing budgets and bring much needed assistance to property owners, without compromising our schools. Will the Governorís plan provide our schools with the increased state aid they need and deserve? For a tax cap proposal to work, budget administrators must hold the line on spending. This must be combined with more state aid to our schools and the removal of all Albany-imposed unfunded mandates. Long Islandís schools and municipalities must see our proper and fair level of state aid to help fund the quality programs and services without the need to raise taxes.
The Governor assured us that this commission will find the answers Ė not just to the problems of property taxes and school funding, but for our struggling economy as well. If this is true, it is only half the battle. The other half comes when tax-capping measures, such as the Property Taxpayers Protection Act, are passed by the State Legislature. New Yorkers need the support of the members of the Assembly Majority to pass these measures into law.
I am hopeful that 2008 will finally bring much needed relief. Time will tell. I hope it comes before it is too late.