State leaders meet on property tax relief

Thursday, May 7th, 2009 at 5:40 am by

Yesterday, Governor Paterson convened a public meeting with legislative leaders to discuss property tax relief.  Presumably the Governor’s motives were two-fold:  to accomplish something and to continue efforts at resuscitating his prospects with voters.

The Governor and the four leaders (Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, and Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos) mostly reiterated past positions on property tax caps, mandate, relief, and circuit-breakers.

The Governor and Senator Skelos re-stated their support for a property tax cap.

Speaker Silver cautioned that cutting school taxes shouldn’t come at the expense of children attending schools that are underfunded now. He also expressed support for a proposal by State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to promote local government consolidation (Mr. Cuomo’s bill does not address school districts).

Senator Smith said that his Democratic conference would begin introducing mandate relief bills next week.  They have begun moving some bills through committee already.

As one would expect, this initial meeting produced no substantive agreements but the leaders appeared to  agree to reconvene in two weeks and to have relevant committee chairs present perspectives and proposals. They also raised the prospect that a conference committee of Legislators will be convened to attempt to negotiate agreement on action steps.

Immediately after the meeting, Nassau County Executive and State Property Tax relief Commission Chair Thomas Suozzi held a conference call with statewide reporters. He revealed a letter he had sent to superintendents commending them on holding proposed school tax increases to a “lower than average” 2.1 percent and asking them to respond to questions concerning factors affecting expense growth and actions the state could take to have a positive impact on their budgets.

The Council issued a statement emphasizing the success in holding down proposed tax increases, despite the freeze on Foundation Aid in this year’s state budget.

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