Cahill Introduces Education and Property Tax Reform Legislation

January 6, 2011

Albany – Assemblymember Kevin Cahill (D–Ulster, Dutchess) kicked off the 2011 Legislative Session by outlining detailed proposals to improve public education and lower real property taxes for the residents of New York State. He has introduced two pieces of legislation, the 21st Century Schools Act (A.416) and the Equity in Education Act (A.447), that focus on modernizing the education system while easing, and subsequently eliminating, the burden of rising, regressive property taxes as a means of funding.

“We must take transformative actions if we are ever truly going to get a handle on the property tax crisis that is crippling our state,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “A property tax cap by itself will not solve the problem. We need to give our schools the tools they need to actually start cutting costs without sacrificing the quality of our children’s education.”

The 21st Century Schools Act is designed to curb school spending through shared services and consolidation by maximizing the utilization of BOCES and increase cooperative participation, using expanded regional approaches to pay for bigger ticket items like transportation, special education and health care. The measure also calls for a complete reexamination of school district lines in order to more efficiently deliver services to school districts. The legislation would create an implementation board modeled after the successful Commission on Health Care Facilities, better known as the Berger Commission. The panel would assure the goals of modernization, educational excellence, efficiency and cost reduction.

“Our current system is bloated, expensive and outdated. The time has come to modernize our system in order to take advantages of economies of scale and improve the delivery of services to our kids and teachers,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “My legislation addresses costs by streamlining services and ending duplication allowing taxpayers to save hundreds of millions of dollars while preserving the quality and local character of our schools.”

The Equity in Education Act (A.447) would shift away from, and ultimately eliminate, the use of locally raised revenue, including real property taxes for the purposes of funding education. This bill is based on the commitment that it is the state's responsibility to ensure that every child, everywhere in New York, has an equal right to a quality education regardless of where they live or the level of their family's income. The bill would phase out school property taxes and replace them with a progressive education income tax surcharge.

“By doing away with the school real property tax and changing to a more progressive statewide income tax, we will be able to fund our schools equitably, fairly and more affordably for all New Yorkers,” said Assemblymember Cahill.

Assemblymember Cahill will be attending the Ulster County School Boards Association meeting this evening to speak on the 21st Century Schools Act. The meeting will take place in the Conference Center at Ulster BOCES in New Paltz at 6:00pm.

“There is a broad and growing consensus that our current educational system is unsustainable,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “We must embrace new solutions that provide efficient and effective services to the people of our state while easing the tax burden that so many New Yorkers are forced to bear.”