screen-shot-2019-02-10-at-2-47-57-pm-150x150-2223739Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday laid down an important marker in his push to make the property tax cap permanent, rejecting changes that would weaken it.

Speaking on Long Island about his fiscal 2020 budget proposal, Cuomo said:

This year we have to make the property tax cap permanent once and for all. No exceptions, no tweaks, no backdoor increases, no Albany games. 2 percent is 2 percent. No exceptions and that’s the bill that we have to pass.

The governor further specified a permanent cap must be a priority for Long Island Democrats in the state legislature, and implored them to, “make it permanent, no gimmicks, no caveats, no exceptions.”

The importance of Cuomo’s position can’t be understated: the property tax cap, which limits property tax levy growth to two percent or less per year with some exceptions, has succeeded in arresting New York’s runaway property taxes chiefly because it was written without the loopholes that weakened New Jersey’s tax cap.

And the Legislature has spent most of the eight years since the cap’s enactment concocting the sorts of “exceptions,” “tweaks,” and “backdoor increases” about which the governor warned.

Lawmakers have proposed no fewer than 15 different ways in which to weaken the cap, including three proposals that would have gutted its most effective mechanisms either by making overrides easier or changing how the cap is calculated.

The New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), the statewide teachers union and arguably the cap’s fiercest adversary, has for years sought to weaken the cap by promoting “reforms” which together would make the tax cap almost meaningless.

Cuomo likely recognizes even the smallest modification could have a far-reaching impact.

Just one exception, part of the original formula and triggered in 2013, raised the cap to account for a jump in pension costs and pushed up school district levy limits by a weighted average of 1.5 percent of the previous years’ levy. The pension exception not only let districts collect an extra $298 million in school year 2013-14 but also baked the increase into the base on which future caps were calculated even as pension costs dropped back down. Given how often school districts have increased taxes as high as the cap will allow, it’s likely this single exception has cumulatively cost taxpayers more than $1 billion in the five rounds of school budgets since.

Cuomo is pushing full-steam ahead to make sure the cap is made permanent as-is and that New York doesn’t sink back into the bad old days when school property taxes were rising an average of 6 percent per year, as they did between 1982 and 2011. If successful, Cuomo will be cementing his legacy as the governor who bent the curve on property taxes and resolved an issue that has long hindered the state’s economic competitiveness.

About the Author

Ken Girardin

Ken Girardin is the Empire Center’s Director of Strategic Initiatives.

Read more by Ken Girardin

You may also like

New York’s State Share of Medicaid Spending is Due to Jump 22 Percent This Fiscal Year

The state share of Medicaid spending is projected to jump 22 percent under the recently approved state budget, an unusually steep one-year jump for what is already one of New York's biggest expenditures. Read More

Voters Approve Nearly All School Budgets Within Tax Cap

School budget votes proposing an average increase in per pupil spending of 4.2 percent were overwhelmingly approved in state-wide voting held yesterday. Read More

The Public Can Now See the Vaccine Task Force Recommendations that the Cuomo Administration Held Back

Even as Governor Cuomo touted vaccine approvals by a state-appointed panel of experts, his office was withholding the group's detailed findings from public view. The governor's six- Read More

New York’s Medicaid and Public Health Crises Get Short Shrift in the New State Budget

In spite of an ongoing pandemic and spiraling Medicaid costs, New York's health-care system received surprisingly little attention in the new state budget. On issue after issue, law Read More

Empire State’s new budget is a bridge to nowhere

Looking ahead to an uncertain post-pandemic recovery, New York’s newly enacted state budget for fiscal year 2022 raises spending by staggering amounts that—barring an unlikely rapid return to peak 2019 economic activity in New York City—can't possibly be sustained for more than a few years. The budget is a mid-2020s fiscal disaster in the making: an incomplete bridge over a deepening river of red ink. Read More

Lawmakers Mull Medicaid Proposals That Would Speed New York Toward a Fiscal Cliff

As a budget deal nears in Albany, reining in spiraling Medicaid costs seems to be the last thing on anyone's mind. Governor Cuomo is advancing only Read More

Tax hike and huge spending increase seem likely in next NY budget

New York state today began its 2022 fiscal year without an adopted budget—which, in itself, is not a big deal. The state government can continue to pay bills and employee salaries next week if either final appropriations Read More

Cuomo Pushes Budget Change Sought by Hospital Group Implicated in Pandemic Scandals

A hospital lobbying group at the heart of scandals plaguing the Cuomo administration is again getting the governor's help in pushing a late change to the state budget. Aides to Gove Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!