Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Hey Governor: Either Call for a Property Tax Cap Tomorrow or Stay in Manhattan

In light of the fact that New Yorkers pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, Governor Eliot Spitzer should either call for a property tax cap in his State of the State Address tomorrow or stay in Manhattan.

Some early reports have indicated that Governor Spitzer may call for a ‘commission’ to ‘study’ the issue of enacting a property tax cap for New York State. If that is what the Governor plans on saying in his State of the State Address tomorrow then, frankly, he should just stay home. We don’t need another commission, study, report, or task force – we already know what the problem is: a crushing property tax burden that’s driving people and businesses from our state.

Ask any homeowner, senior citizen, farmer or small business owner and they will tell you: property taxes have reached a crisis level in New York State. If the Governor doesn’t recognize this, then he’s out of touch with the vast majority of New Yorkers. Overtaxed families don’t need the Governor to be a steamroller, they need him to be a rescue vehicle.

We can join 14 other states, states such as Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, South Dakota and West Virginia that have already successfully capped property taxes.

I believe this is the number one issue facing our state. Unless Governor Spitzer comes out in support of a property tax cap and actually commits himself to passing it, then I think this session – and possibly his governorship – will be characterized as a failure.

Our Conference has already introduced legislation – Assembly Bill A.8775 – the ‘New York State Property Taxpayers Protection Act’ to address this crisis. It’s been estimated that homeowners and businesses would realize hundreds of millions in savings by limiting the growth of school property tax levies. In fact, if our property tax cap had already been in place, New Yorkers would have realized a savings of more than $2.8 billion over two years. That is real relief that homeowners desperately need.

Governor Spitzer can take a big step toward helping us solve New York’s property tax crisis by joining our Conference in making enactment of a property tax cap the top legislative priority this session. Otherwise, it will be more of the same and he should just stay home.

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