Hawley Calls For Property Tax Cap

There is no question that Western New Yorkers need property tax relief. This is my highest priority and that’s why I am fighting to enact the Property Taxpayers Protection Act, a comprehensive plan that would finally give homeowners, businesses and farmers the tax relief they need.

The Property Taxpayers Protection Act would lower taxes, saving New Yorkers approximately $16 billion over the next five years, and ensure taxes remain low by instituting a cap on how much the state and localities are allowed to raise taxes annually. My plan would also alleviate the local burden of Albany-imposed unfunded mandates by making the state pay for any mandates that cost localities $10,000 or more annually and tackle the $4.5 billion in annual Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse that continue to force our taxes skyward.

If the property tax cap were enacted, New York would join 14 other states – such as California and Massachusetts – that have enacted similar measures and have significantly lowered their tax burden without compromising their schools or services. Last week Governor Spitzer called for the creation of a commission to study the growing property tax burden in New York State and its effects on homeowners and businesses.

However, if 14 other states have already realized the effects of outrageous property taxes and taken actions to fix that, it seems that studying the problem here is redundant. In Western New York, and across the state, homeowners, businesses and farmers already know how much property taxes are costing them. The tax burden is costing us jobs and our homes. It’s no longer time for studies, it is time for real action.

In his State of the State Address, Governor Spitzer also expressed his support for enacting a tax cap and today, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also joined my call to lower the tax burden. To ensure State lawmakers cannot forget these promises, I joined with the Assembly Minority Conference to unveil a “Property Tax Cap Countdown Clock” right outside of Speaker Silver’s office. This clock will countdown until Tuesday, April 1, 2008, which is New York’s fiscal deadline and our deadline for enacting property tax relief, either based on existing proposals or the recommendations made by the new property tax commission.

I am hopeful that this is the year Albany finally does the right thing for Western New York. We must work together to pass a property tax cap immediately and to hold the line on the outrageous state spending that is costing New Yorkers billions.