E-Mail Newsletter – February 27, 2014

Property tax relief continues to be a top priority for me in the New York State Assembly and I appreciate Governor Cuomo's proposed attempt to "freeze" the cap to provide some relief - without amendment, however, local governments do not expect to achieve it. The rebate plan Governor Cuomo is proposing to provide to New Yorkers living in communities that stay within the tax cap is well intended, but the approach is not attainable for most localities without more state relief and even then, the rebate is biased toward high wealth areas. Assemblymembers McDonald, Steck, and I have expressed our concerns with the proposed plan.

The proposed, two-year tax freeze would be on top of the two-percent (or less) cap already in place and requires additional consolidation efforts, without recognizing or rewarding the recent consolidations made over the last couple of years. Localities have made significant cutbacks and often with less financial assistance or mandate relief from the state – for example, Aid Incentive to Municipalities (AIM) is down 75 percent since 1980 (adjusted for inflation).

A more equitable solution would be the implementation of a property tax "circuit breaker" that offers tax credits based on the proportion of homeowners’ income taken up by their property tax bills.

The “tax freeze” is biased toward high wealth districts. Any property tax increase (under the two percent cap) is based on a percentage of the district’s overall tax levy. Wealthier districts have larger tax levies and, therefore, the percent increase is a larger dollar amount than that of lower wealth districts. This disparity is also apparent in the rebate checks residents from qualifying localities are proposed to receive under the Governor's plan. Residents from upstate will receive an average rebate check of $200, whereas for downstate residents, the average check will be $580 -- nearly triple the amount.

As our cities, towns, and villages continue to struggle in a post-recession economy, I'm committed to finding and supporting ways, be it through tax relief or through expanding our tax base.

New public health lab at Harriman State Office Campus proposed. Governor Cuomo is supporting a new $600 million lab at the Harriman State Office Campus that focuses on consolidating the four existing Wadsworth Center labs. The facility would be 650,000 sq. ft. in size and would house 800 workers. As we move forward on this project, I will be vigilant in continuing to advocate for a PILOT plan for the Harriman campus to provide some relief for the City of Albany's financial situation, along with supporting the growth of private-sector jobs and expanding taxable, commercial development at the campus.

Supporting the next generation of women in public policy and public service. I was honored to have been the keynote speaker at the fellowship reception for the University at Albany’s Center for Women in Government and Civil Society. While we have made great strides in harnessing the talents of women as public service leaders, there is work still that needs to be done. We need to celebrate our success, but also move the women’s equality agenda forward.

Don't miss out on tax credits. Mayor Kathy Sheehan launched an initiative to promote the Earned Income Tax Credit, aimed on providing low and moderate income families tax relief, in addition to having your taxes done for free if qualified. Visit the City of Albany's website for more information.

Calling for comprehensive immigration reform: I was proud to join U.S. Rep. Paul D. Tonko and fellow local leaders at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany in calling for comprehensive immigration reform. As the daughter of immigrants, I've seen firsthand the value and work ethic that serves as the bedrock of the American Dream that remains out of reach to our nation's undocumented immigrants. Thank you, Congressman Tonko, for your tireless work on the issue.

Events in and around the 109th:

+ The Affordable Housing Partnership will conduct a series of workshops on homebuying, financial education, credit usage, and property management over the course of the next few weeks. You can register for these workshops by visiting the AHP website.

Job Opportunities: I’ve set up a page on my Assembly website for job announcements and listings that we’ll update periodically. If you know of any job listings, send my office a note.

Capital District Assembly Update: Tune in every Tuesday at 5 p.m. on Channel 17 (for Time Warner Cable subscribers) for the next episode of Capital District Assembly Update, co-hosted by Assemblymember McDonald and me. You can also previous episodes and clips on my Assembly website.

As always, for the latest about my office’s happenings or for upcoming events, please visit my office online, on Facebook, on Twitter, or my Times Union blog. If you would like to reach my office, please feel free to send us a note.

Sincerely ---