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Property tax cuts to stay?

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Albany/HV: Property tax cuts to stay?
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Governor Andrew Cuomo's tax commission is focused on keeping costs down in local governments. As Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman reports, the state lawmakers who have the final say are still divided over what's best for the state.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- A local property tax cut paid for by the state may be easier said than done. A panel created by Governor Andrew Cuomo this week recommended a new rebate program for homeowners whose local government's budget within the state's tax cap and start to share services. It's a proposal the governor has seized on.

"The commission came back and recommended a two year freeze in property taxes subsidized by the state, which means property taxes for the next few years would be frozen in place. Zero and zero," said Governor Cuomo.

Indeed, Cuomo touted the proposal at Wednesday's regional economic development forum as a sign that the famously high tax state was turning a corner. But the issues of taxes and spending will be at the forefront next budget season, especially if there's a surplus. In New York City, incoming Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio wants to raise taxes on the rich to pay for universal pre-Kindergarten. The proposal needs to be signed off on in Albany.

"If the mayor-elect has a plan in order to provide pre-K in New York City, I think that we need to listen to it, we need to talk about it and I'm sure we'll get it done," said Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.

Cuomo is predicting the state will have extra money to afford a tax cut, but it's likely Democrats in Albany, especially the Assembly, will want a large portion of those funds to be directed at education. Senate Republicans on the other hand seem to be in favor of the tax cut proposal.

"I'm very encouraged by it. It's exactly what this state needs. We need to turn that situation around because the heavy taxes have such a negative impact on our economic growth," said State Senator Cathy Young.

And then there's the property tax proposal itself, one that puts more pressure on local governments to share services and consolidate. But some state lawmakers believe it's a good mechanism to help property taxpayers.

"Being one who actually put shared services in place as a mayor, I know we can do a much better job of sharing services throughout our local governments and that's something I'll look forward to working on this coming legislative session," said Assemblyman John McDonald.

How much money the state can put toward a tax cut is yet to be determine. The tax commission led by former Governor George Pataki and ex-Comptroller Carl McCall recommended $2 billion in cuts over the next several years.

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