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A06831 Memo:

submitted in accordance with Assembly Rule III, Sec 1(f)
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 percent supermajority. 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.
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