Suozzi Forum Follow Up Letter

June 11, 2008

To the Editor:

Earlier this week, I hosted a public forum with Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi who explained the proposal from the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief, which he chairs. The forum brought up many views: We heard from anti-tax groups, supporters of an income-tax based system of taxation, teachers’ union members, PTA representatives, business consortiums, and school boards. Needless to say, the opinions were wide-ranging.

We must act swiftly enacting legislation to begin the hard work to fundamentally change New York State’s property tax burden. The solution will help to keep people in New York, attract and keep more businesses in our state, and critically, make it easier for people to feel good about investing in quality education. This should not be a hard choice to make, but rather something that people understand will embellish their communities without compromising their livelihoods.

Having spent much time studying this issue from my position as Chairperson of the Assembly Committee on Real Property Taxation, including speaking with constituents and interest groups across the spectrum, I understand how complex property taxes are. Finding a solution will require a great deal of compromise, as well as some bold moves.

I am strongly leaning toward supporting the Commission’s preliminary recommendations. I believe they are based on a true understanding of the difficult and complex issues we face in New York. A property tax cap would force us to make some tough decisions. My circuit breaker bill, (A.1575A/S.1053A) in conjunction with a tax cap that mirrors the consumer price index, accompanied by a complete look into reducing or eliminating unfunded mandates can turn our state economy around and start to undo some of the damage that has been done. Tom Suozzi put it well when he said, “The bottom line is people will always disagree, but the answer cannot be to do nothing. We have to solve this problem. To get something done is going to require compromise.”

I encourage everyone to voice their views and opinions. Many details have yet to be finalized. However, continuing the status quo is not the answer. We need to make changes to make our state more competitive and lower the tax burden for our residents. We must start our work now or we will never accomplish the task at hand.

Sandy Galef
Assembly Member, 90th AD
(914) 941-1111