Assemblywoman Galef Announces Results of Constituent Survey on Property Tax Reform

Circuit Breaker Tops the Choices for Tax Relief
July 14, 2008

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef’s circuit breaker legislation scored tops on a questionnaire she sent to her constituents in March. The survey was part of a property tax analysis Galef is conducting to secure a better understanding of what would best help to combat rising property taxes in her legislative district. The questionnaire appeared in her March newsletter which described a number of measures the state legislature is considering to approach reducing the high property tax burden.

Constituents were asked to prioritize their choices from first to last. The most favored approach was the Middle Income Circuit Breaker (A.1575-A/S.1053-A) legislation, co-sponsored by Galef and Senator Betty Little. Following close behind, in second place was “Funding Schools on Income Tax Instead of Property Tax” (A.4746 Cahill). Third place was a Consumer Price Index Tax Cap (similar to what the Commission on Property Tax Relief has proposed,) followed by Massachusetts Proposition 2 ½ (again, similar to the tax cap, but with a lower cap and other specifications.) In fifth place was an option for local districts to choose a combination of property and income tax (A.9733 Galef). Sixth place was an optional system by school districts for the state to take over local education spending (S.6119 Bruno/Saland). In last place was maintaining the system currently in place based on property tax values.

Not surprisingly, 80 percent of respondents felt that what they paid in property taxes compared to their household income was not fair. 78 percent said they paid more than 6, 7 or 8 percent of their household income in property taxes, and of those, 65 percent felt that Galef’s circuit breaker legislation would give them more relief than they currently receive through their STAR rebate check (which was based on 2005 household income.)

“This was really a very complicated questionnaire,” says Galef, “It certainly made people think. I received so much feedback from this newsletter. People could not believe how difficult it was to just to figure out which would be more helpful to them. It makes it clear that we cannot just go for a quick fix but must understand what the most comprehensive solution would be to relieve the burden of high property taxes for the most people.”

In May, Galef sent out a follow up newsletter about cutting costs. “We need to look at the entire picture. Many of my constituents have contacted me about moving to an income based system of taxation, but I am not convinced that it would get us out of the hole we’re in. Now when our economy is hurting, it’s really the perfect opportunity to take a hard look at our costs to see where we can cut back. I know that is what everyone is doing at home. I believe this is what we need to do at the state, county, local and school district level as well,” said Galef. The results of the May questionnaire, focusing on sharing services to cut costs will be available in the next month.

For more information or to get a copy of the questionnaire, contact Dana Levenberg in Assemblywoman Galef’s office at (914) 941-1111 or