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New York State tax cap not yet a true victory

October 10, 2012
Westfield Republican / Mayville Sentinel News

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is right in touting a report showing that in the first year of the state's tax cap, average property tax growth across the state was, indeed, held to 2 percent.

We will give him that.

But then the governor's message says this:

''... the cap empowers citizens to scrutinize the taxes that they have to pay and take control of local spending decisions and tax levies.''

That's a hoot.

It is inevitable that until Cuomo makes good on his promises to eliminate expensive state mandates, local governments and schools will, more and more, bring in budgets under the tax cap by cutting local services.

Clearly chest-pounding about the success of the tax cap needs to be held off until the governor and Legislature come up with a study showing how that 2 percent average was achieved.

We know our local 4-H is one of the casualties, for example.

Without a doubt, unless mandates are rolled back, larger and larger shares of local property taxes will be spent paying for state requirements, leaving virtually no money for those local spending decisions the governor says citizens have been empowered to control.

The list of onerous, expensive mandates is long. One of the worst is a state law that requires schools and local government to continue giving public employee union members raises after their contracts have expired. That completely eliminates any incentive for them to settle a contract unless it gives them exactly what they want - to say nothing of actually giving back some of the lucrative and too-expensive benefits they enjoy.

''One year later, it is clear that the property tax cap has been a tremendous success, saving hard-earned money for New York families while ensuring that local governments learn to do more with less," the governor said in the press release.

Yes indeedy.

But until we know exactly the spending and programs local governments will have to eliminate over time to keep up on payments to the state, there is no victory to claim.



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