Governor Cuomo is touring the state to propose an alternative to local governments blindly raising taxes to pay the bills. Nick Reisman explains how a "circuit breaker" plan ties tax increases to a household's income.
NEW YORK STATE -- Governor Andrew Cuomo is stumping the state for his proposal to essentially freeze property taxes through personal appearances, telephone town halls and TV ads paid for by his re-election campaign. The proposal is designed to encourage local governments to cut spending and reduce taxes.
Cuomo said, "For local governments it's very simple. The answer is raise taxes. Then you don't have to make any changes, just raise taxes. And we've done that for too many years in this state."
But Cuomo's property tax plan is running into opposition in the state Legislature. The Senate altered the plan to ease pressure off local officials. And the Assembly rejected it entirely, but is including more money for the so-called circuit-breaker, which ties tax increases to a household's income.
"The governor proposed a circuit breaker as well. So there are a number of things and aid to localities directly would alleviate the need to provide property tax relief because they wouldn't have to pick up those burdens," said Sheldon Silver, (D) Assembly speaker.
But the circuit breaker won't accomplish Cuomo's goal of pairing back the cost of local governments, which he says is responsible for high property taxes, a claim critics of the proposal is false.
Cuomo added, "It's not in the Old Testament that we have to have 62 counties and we have to have 10,000 towns. That wasn't written in scripture."
Nevertheless, Cuomo is altering the tax cut pitch somewhat, simplifying the proposal to allow two percent rebate check for property owners in communities that freeze tax increases.
That doesn't mean Cuomo is letting up on state lawmakers. Cuomo says he wants voters to call their local legislator to personally lobbying on the plan.
Silver went on to say, "I just think the members of conference take everybody's thoughts into account and come up with their conclusion. We're still discussing the matter; I don't think there's a final conclusion on it."
And as for rank-and-file state lawmakers, some support Cuomo's proposal in principle, saying there needs to be some way to encourage local governments to share services.
"I think we should try to incentivize local governments to not raise their taxes and there are ways to do that," said John McDonald, (D) Assembly.