NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLY MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
BILL NUMBER: A6831
SPONSOR: Jaffee (MS)
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the education law, in relation to
school district tax levies
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To require a simple majority vote for
approval of a school budget that exceeds the property tax cap.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: This bill would amend the property tax
cap statute by requiring a fifty percent or a simple majority vote
instead of a sixty percent supermajority vote to approve a school budget
that exceeds the property tax cap.
JUSTIFICATION: In 2011, the Governor signed into law a two percent
real property tax cap for local taxing entities, including school
districts, to control the amount of property tax increases. In order for
a school district to pass a budget that is at or below the tax cap, only
a 50 percent or simple majority vote is needed. However, the vote
required to pass a school budget that exceeds the tax cap is a 60
The threshold of a 60 percent supermajority to override the tax cap is
problematic and unfair. According to the New York State School Boards
Association (NYSSBA), in 2012, among the 48 school districts that sought
a 60 percent supermajority vote to approve a budget that exceeds the tax
cap, 19 school budgets (40 percent) saw defeat and sometimes by a tiny
margin. For example, in the New Paltz school district in Ulster County,
where more than. 59 percent of voters supported the spending plan, the
budget was defeated by a mere 18 votes. Among the 19 defeated budgets,
there were eight that would have been approved if only the traditional
simple majority had been required. These results underline a fundamental
unfairness in the 60 percent supermajority requirement which makes the
votes of those who support an override much less powerful than the votes
of those who oppose an override. In effect, 41 percent of local voters
have more power than 59 percent of local voters. Even Massachusetts,
which has been looked at by New York and other states as a model for
property tax reform, only requires a simple majority vote for approving
an override of its tax cap.
Furthermore, evidence suggests that wealthier communities both attempt
more tax cap overrides and are more successful in passing them. NYSSBA
research shows that school districts where budgets passed with superma-
jority approval had higher average income and property values than those
that failed. Thus, the 60 percent supermajority requirement could lead
to even more educational disparities across the State between lower
income communities relative to their higher income counterparts. To
address these inequities, I am proposing this legislation to only
require a simple majority to override the property tax cap.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None to the State.
EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately.