A important breakthrough on the property tax cap issue came last week when Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver introduced a bill that conforms in key respects to Governor Andrew Cuomo's original proposal.
New Jersey imposed a 4 percent cap on local property tax increases a year before Governor David Paterson endorsed the Suozzi Commission's call for a school property tax cap in New York. But unlike Paterson's original proposal, the cap signed into law by New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine in 2007 contained a number of loopholes, including a clause exempting the cost of health insurance benefits.
The only proven route to long-term and lasting property-tax relief in New York is property-tax limitation - such as capping the annual growth in school-tax levies, Empire Center for Public Policy Director E.J. McMahon said in testimony today before state Assembly lawmakers.
If the Republican leaders of the newly reconstituted state Senate majority really intend to press for property tax relief before the end of session, they should start by reviving the school property tax cap. But they should ignore the latest version of the tax cap sent up to the Legislature by Governor David Paterson. The governor's new program bill includes a gigantic carve-out for teacher retirement costs, which over the next few years will be skyrocketing.