Senate moves to erase Silver Sunset

by Ken Girardin |  | NY Torch

IMG_3530-cropThe state Senate’s Republican majority is standing behind its pledge to make New York’s property tax cap permanent. Newly installed Majority Leader John Flanagan has filed legislation accomplishing that goal, which he identified as his top priority for the end of the 2015 legislative session.

UPDATED 5/20/15: The Senate passed the Flanagan tax cap bill Tuesday afternoon 47-13, with more than half of the chamber’s Democratic members joining the Republicans. All 13 of the no votes came from senators whose districts are located entirely in New York City, which is not affected by the tax cap.

The bill deletes language in the original tax cap statute that (a) sets the cap to expire after mid-June of 2016, but also (b) allows it to automatically remain in effect as long as the Legislature extends various New York City rent regulation laws, which happen to expire next month.

Governor Cuomo’s tax cap proposal originated in 2011 as a permanent change, but was made temporary at the insistence of then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Even assuming New York City rent control laws are extended without significant changes, keeping the awkwardly worded expiration language—think of it as the Silver Sunset—will make it vulnerable in the future.

Cuomo called for making the cap permanent in January as part of his State of the State “Opportunity Agenda.” Senate Republicans included language calling for it in their budget proposal, but had not yet introduced a stand-alone bill.

Flanagan’s legislation is notable because it makes the cap permanent without adding loopholes sought by local government groups and unions.

The tax cap’s impact on school taxes was documented in this new Empire Center Research and Data report. And here’s a nifty map that lets you search tax cap savings by region.

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- Ken Girardin is the Policy Analyst at the Empire Center for Public Policy.