Support for Co-op/Condo Tax
Because of the way the state property tax law is written, co-op and condo owners have historically paid higher property taxes than owners of houses of the same value.
Assembly bill A.10071, which I co-sponsor, would have extended an existing 17.5 percent real property tax abatement for the owners of cooperatives and condominiums in New York City assessed at $15,000 or more. Apartments assessed at less than $15,000 would receive a 25 percent abatement.
I heard from hundreds of co-op and condominium owners about the importance of renewing the abatement, and I agree with them. Unfortunately, the regular legislative session in Albany ended without renewing the law, and now, as of June 30th, the tax abatement has expired.
For now, the City is continuing to charge co-ops and condos as if the abatement were still in effect. It is very likely that the State Legislature will hold a special session in the Fall, when this would be on the agenda. It is important that this is resolved soon.
Co-op or condo owner should not pay more in taxes than an owner of a house of equal value.
Another Bad Rent Guidelines Board Decision
The Rent Guidelines Board voted in June to allow rents to be raised for one-year leases up to 2% and up to 4% for two-year leases for Rent Stabilized apartments, for leases being renewed on or after October 1, 2012. The Board again responded to landlord claims about rising operations and maintenance costs, and largely ignored tenant concerns. I believe there should have been a rent freeze.
The RGB has given landlords rent increases in years when there were no cost increases. So current rents are already above landlord costs. If costs are rising, they are only now catching up to those unwarranted increases. New Yorkers, even in Rent Stabilized apartments, pay an excessive and growing percentage of their income for rent, much more than in the rest of the country. It hurts tenants and the city.
If you have questions about the increases, please call Eliyanna Kaiser in my office at 212-807-7900.
Patients suffering from serious debilitating or life-threatening conditions could be treated with medical marijuana under medical supervision through a bill I introduced along with State Senator Diane Savino. Under appropriate professional care like other drugs, marijuana has important therapeutic use for many seriously ill patients.
The bill passed the Assembly with bi-partisan support. Additionally, the bill has substantial support among the medical community, patient groups, and religious organizations. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have laws that allow medical use of marijuana, with Connecticut being the most recent. Unfortunately, the State Senate did not act on the bill before regular legislative session ended for the year on June 21.
State Supreme Court Justice Reichbach's article in the May 17 New York Times is a compelling statement in support of why New York should allow the use of medical marijuana. Most New Yorkers agree with Justice Reichbach and I hope his courageous statement will help get Albany to act.
Supreme Court Upholds President Obama's Affordable Care Act
The Affordable Care Act, which was deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, has made major improvements in how health care is delivered and paid for. The Supreme Court decision will protect the life and health of millions of Americans.
However, the ACA still leaves insurance companies with too much control of our health and our wallets. Premiums skyrocket every year, while patients and their doctors try to figure out what is covered and then try to get reimbursed.
New York can do better. Now that the federal law is settled, we can focus on building a better system here. We can get better coverage, get all of us covered, and save billions by having New York provide publicly-sponsored, single-payer health coverage, like Medicare or Child Health Plus for everyone. That is why I have introduced the "New York Health" bill in Albany.
Like other basic services such as education, police, fire protection, and roads, paying for health care should be a public responsibility. We should not be at the mercy of insurance companies and their ever increasing premiums. Health care should be a basic right, not a privilege or a commodity.
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Albany, NY 12248