Today’s Buffalo News reports that Gov. Cuomo is signaling a willingness to water down his property tax cap proposal. Most alarmingly, the News says Cuomo “privately told lawmakers this week that the list of expenses exempt from any limit probably will have to be expanded to include such outlays as rising employee pension costs.”

screen-shot-2011-04-07-at-115851-am1-400x332-3719064

Cuomo has proposed a 2 percent annual cap on property tax levy growth — but, as explained in our “Exploding Pension Costs” report, rising teacher pension costs alone could be sufficient to boost property tax levies by 3.5 percent a year over the next five years if no cap is in place.  A tax “cap” that excludes pensions or other benefits will be more like a sieve.

The state Senate has already passed the tax cap as Cuomo proposed — making exceptions only for capital costs, while also allowing for voter overrides of the tax limit in school districts.  Assembly Democrats reportedly are pushing for many more exceptions to the tax limit before they will even consider it.

Here are the governor’s own latest comments on the issue, courtesy of Gannett News Service:

“There is always room for the negotiations. This is Albany. A property-tax cap is very important,” Cuomo said.

Asked later about potential wiggle room, Cuomo said that remains a possibility.

“I’m going to stick with my proposal on the cap,” Cuomo continued. “Do we negotiate these issues? Yes. And are there different opinions the cap? Yes. And do you have new facts and circumstances on the cap? Yes. So I understand that there’ll be a brisk dialogue and I’m ready for it. But a cap itself is very important. Because all a cap says is fiscal discipline.”

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos sounds more reassuring:

“I’ve said this I don’t know how many times: We passed it. So if you want to negotiate something. If the governor wants to negotiate it or the Assembly wants to negotiate it, that means they want to water it down,” Skelos said. “So we’ve passed a hard property-tax cap and we hope that the governor just like he did in opposing the elimination of the continuation of the income-tax surcharge, I hope he convinces the speaker to pass our property-tax cap, which is the governor’s property tax cap.”

For more background on the tax cap, see our “Case for a Cap” report.

About the Author

E.J. McMahon

Edmund J. McMahon is Empire Center's founder and a senior fellow.

Read more by E.J. McMahon

You may also like

Hochul’s ‘Straight Talk’ on Medicaid Isn’t Straight Enough

Arguably the biggest Medicaid news in Governor Hochul's budget presentation was about the current fiscal year, not the next one: The state-run health plan is running substantially over budget. Read More

DeRosa Is Still Hiding the Truth About Cuomo’s Pandemic Response

As the long-time top aide to former Governor Andrew Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa ought to have useful information to share about the state's pandemic response – especially about what went wrong and how the state could be better Read More

One Brooklyn Health’s Money Troubles Raise a Billion-Dollar Question

A brewing fiscal crisis at One Brooklyn Health, which has received more than $1 billion in turnaround funding from the state, raises the question of whether that money has been well spent. Read More

Beware of Medicaid’s Spending Swings

The state's Medicaid spending is becoming increasingly volatile from month to mo Read More

Emails Confirm That Cuomo’s Staff Launched Its ‘Book’ Project in March 2020

A pair of state-employed writers began researching, outlining and drafting a book about Governor Andrew Cuomo's pandemic response in late March 2020, weeks before New York's harrowing first wave had passed, according to newly disclosed email records. Read More

A Politically Active Medical Group Gains Access to Funds for ‘Distressed’ Providers

A politically connected medical group in the Bronx garnered an unusual benefit in the new state budget – access to money previously reserved for financially troubled safety-net hospitals and nursing homes. Read More

Hochul’s ‘Pay and Resolve’ Push for Hospitals Triggers Déjà Vu

Two years ago last week, I wrote in the Daily News about how then-Governor Andrew Cuomo was pushing a costly change to insurance law on behalf of a hospital group that had supported his campaign through a fund-rai Read More

Emails show Cuomo’s staff working on his memoir at the peak of New York’s pandemic

Newly available records shed further light on the origins of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo's pandemic memoir, which won him a $5.1 million publishing contract before contributing to his political downfall. The records reveal that his government staff were a Read More