Testimony on the 2008-2009 Executive Budget – Economic Development and Taxes

February 11, 2008. Testimony submitted by FPI executive director Frank Mauro to the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means committees. Given the many signs that we are in a recession, state leaders must be especially careful about the way they close the state budget gap. Some gap-closing strategies could actually exacerbate the downturn.

Testimony on the 2008-2009 Executive Budget – Human Services

February 5, 2008. Testimony submitted by FPI senior economist Trudi Renwick to the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees. Renwick explains several important policy opportunities for New York: increase the basic welfare grant; liberalize the earned income disregard; finance the Earned Income Tax Credit from the General Fund; and take child care funding out of the Flexible Fund for Family Services (FFFS), to ensure that adequate resources go for this essential work support. Renwick includes a series of charts and tables describing TANF spending in New York.

Archive: Property tax policy in the news

From February 2008 through June 2011, In reverse chronological order:

July 10, 2011. Massachusetts has spent 30 years living with a property-tax cap. By Cara Matthews, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Also in the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, the Journal News (Westchester and Rockland), and the Albany Times-Union.

In Massachusetts, local governments adopt one budget that includes municipal and school spending. Voters make the decision on all overrides. Proposition 2½ is less restrictive than New York’s new cap, said Frank Mauro, executive director of the labor-backed Fiscal Policy Institute in Albany.

As a result, the average annual growth in Massachusetts’ property tax revenue was about 5.5 percent a year between 1981-82 and 2009-10, he wrote in a report last month.

New York’s cap “would undermine the quality of the entire array of locally funded public services while providing very little relief, if any, to those homeowners who are most overburdened by real property taxes,” he wrote.

The Massachusetts cap includes some exemptions and a less stringent override provision – a simple majority, Mauro said.

June 30, 2011. Property tax cap proves elusive. Ongoing debate: Some say that it won’t do enough, others believe the concept is too restrictive. By Brian Amaral, Watertown Daily Times.

June 10, 2011. Comparing the New York and Massachusetts tax caps. The Capitol Report with Susan Arbetter.

June 6, 2011. Cuomo lauds Mass. tax cap; others say comparison to NY flawed. By Elizabeth Cooper, Utica Observer-Dispatch.

Frank Mauro, of the Albany-based Fiscal Policy Institute, said that even with the cap, Massachusetts’ property-tax revenue had increased at roughly the same pace as New York’s.

“If you are looking to Massachusetts for salvation you are diagnosing the problem wrong,” Mauro said. “Growth in New York and Massachusetts have been about the same.”

May 25, 2011. Tax cap deal announced by Gov. Cuomo criticized by those who say it doesn’t provide relief to homeowners. By James M. Odato, Albany Times Union.

April 26, 2011. State struggles to end STAR tax break for the wealthy. Bu Joesph Spector and Cathey O’Donnell, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Poughkeepsie Journal. Also in the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, the Elmira Star Gazette, and the Ithaca Journal.

“This is reform at the edges,” Frank Mauro, executive director of the union-backed Fiscal Policy Institute, said of the cap on STAR benefits.

“The fundamental illogic of STAR remains. But the problem is because it gives benefits to almost everyone in the state, it’s a very popular program and difficult to reform.”

March 28, 2011. Five-year plan for funding education in NY. Reported by Greg Fry, WAMC.

March 25, 2011. New Paltz forum focuses on education in New York state and how it is funded. By William J. Kemble, Kingston Daily Freeman.

February 15, 2011. Shift Education Funding To Income Tax Says Assemblyman at Galef-Sponsored Forum. philipstown.info.

January 24, 2011. Unlikely Allies Fight Cuomo’s Plan for Property Tax Cap. By Winnie Hu, New York Times.

January 20, 2011. Some groups tout tax circuit-breaker plan. By Chris McKenna, Middletown Times Herald-Record.

December 16, 2010. Omnibus Consortium offers tax relief solution other than tax cap. News 10, Albany.

August 26, 2010. Real Reform Needed. An editorial on property tax reform in the Ithaca Times.

May 30, 2010. Detractors weigh in on school property tax cap. By Cara Matthews and Meaghan M. McDermott, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

May 15, 2010. New York considers ways to provide property tax relief: Several plans call for placing cap on rates. By Cara Matthews, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin. Also in the Elmira Star-Gazette and the Ithaca Journal.

Frank Mauro, head of the labor-backed Fiscal Policy Institute in New York, said a cap would perpetuate current funding inequities among school districts. “When you apply a percentage cap to change, you institutionalize the disparities and you make them worse,” Mauro said. He said a circuit-breaker system would provide relief to the most overburdened homeowners.

April 2010. Property Tax Relief: The Case for Circuit Breakers. By Daphne Kenyon, Adam H. Langley, and Bethany P. Paquin. Published in Land Lines, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy’s quarterly magazine. The article features a full page sidebar on “New York’s Effort to Provide Targeted Tax Relief.”

December 21, 2009. Property tax fix pondered in N.Y. Senate. By Cara Matthews, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

October 28, 2009. School advocates: Cuts unfairly applied. State formula hurts poor districts, calculations show. By Meghan E. Murphy, Middletown Times Herald-Record.

October 13, 2009. State lawmakers question property-tax exemptions. By Cara Matthews, Elmira Star-Gazette.

June 2, 2009. Circuit breaker supporters still hopeful despite a lack of funds. By Rick Karlin, Capitol Confidential.

May 10, 2009. Property-tax pain growing throughout the state: As economy stalls and prices rise, more are feeling the squeeze. By Meghan E. Murphy, Middletown Times Herald-Record.

CASE STUDY: Lisa and Anthony Kimball of the Village of Montgomery bought their home three years ago at the peak of the market. Their budget is now being squeezed by increasing property taxes. Here’s how the three most-discussed property reform bills in the state Senate would impact their taxes.

2008

Income: $85,000

Town tax: $1,827.59

Village tax: $2,426.60

School tax: $5,396.30

Total: $9,650.49

 

OPTION 1: Bill numbers S.253/A.7094

What it does: Establishes a circuit breaker credit that covers all property taxes based on property value. Establishes brackets where those making under $100,000 get the largest credit, which gradually decreases so taxpayers making more than $250,000 receive no credit.

Total relief:

2009: $0.00

2010 and beyond: $3,185.34

 

OPTION 2: Bill number S.4239

What it does: Similar to S.253/A.7094. Establishes a circuit breaker credit for all property taxes based on property value. The bill phases in over four years to give the state time to shift funding. Taxpayers would see less savings in the first three years. Those making under $100,000 get the largest credit, which gradually decreases so taxpayers making more than $250,000 receive no credit.

Total relief:

2009: $1,400.34

2010: $1,697.84

2011: $2,292.84

2012 and beyond: $3,185.34

 

OPTION 3: Bill number S.1849-C

What it does: Re-establishes the STAR rebate checks program beginning in fall 2009 and establishes a circuit breaker credit that covers school property taxes beginning with the 2010 calendar year tax year.

Total relief:

2009: $421.22

2010: $628.63

2011: $698.83

2012 and beyond: $769.04

Source: Calculations provided for the Times Herald-Record by Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute

April 24, 2009. Property tax cap pushed. By Paul Post, The Saratogian.

April 13, 2009. NY lawmakers asked to consider coalition’s circuit breaker tax plan. By Anna Helhoski, Legislative Gazette.

March 27, 2009. Groups Support Governor Paterson’s Proposal to Eliminate the STAR Rebate Checks; Consortium Says This Flawed Program Must be Replaced with Meaningful Circuit Breaker. Watch this video press conference to learn more about how redirecting the funds now wasted on STAR rebates will help balance this year’s budget and in the longer term work toward tax fairness. More at omnibustaxsolution.org >>

March 25, 2009. Taxes Through the Looking Glass Can Long Island have its cake and eat it too? An alternate view of property taxes. By Lawrence C. Levy, Long Island Pulse Magazine.

March 23, 2009. Personal income tax reform: The least damaging way to close New York State’s budget gap. FPI’s Frank Mauro interviewed by Fred Dicker on his Albany radio show, TALK 1300 WGDJ. Includes discussion of the omnibus tax reform bill. (Interview starts at 33:50.)

March 20, 2009. The New York State budget: proposals to raise taxes and cut spending and whether we’ll have an on time budget this year. FPI’s Frank Mauro interviewed by Host David Galletly on the Capitol Connection, WAMC Northeast Public Radio.

February 4, 2009. NYS Budget: The STAR Rebate. By Rachel Ward, WXXI.

January 20, 2009. Group wants shift in tax philosophy. By Edward J. Carr, Legislative Gazette.

January 15, 2009. Advocates push for tax-relief plan. By Heather Senison, Journal News.

January 14, 2009. Groups wants state to relieve middle-class tax burden. By Heather Senison, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin.

January 14, 2009. Reformers to propose new property tax cap law. By Paul Post, The Saratogian.

August 28, 2008. Let wealthy relieve tax burden of poor. By Dan Cantor, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

August 22, 2008. Poll numbers and the property tax: Another take. By Dan Janison, Newsday’s Spin Cycle blog.

August 22, 2008. Compromise remains elusive. By Joseph Spector, Journal News.

August 18, 2008. Tax cap lessons from Bay State. Reported by Curtis Schick. Capital News 9. Also on Syracuse News 10.

August 17, 2008. Paterson’s tax cap proposal criticized. By Sara Foss, Schenectady Daily Gazette.

August 16, 2008. Property tax reform proponents unveil plan: Legislators, group back ‘circuit breaker.’ By John Davis, Poughkeepsie Journal.

The occasion was the unveiling of the Omnibus Bill that would combine short-term tax relief and long-term tax reform. It proposes enacting a “circuit breaker” and, in the long run, shifting costs to the state.

The Omnibus Bill is the brainchild of Frank Mauro, director of the Fiscal Policy Institute, an Albany-based economic think tank.

“We came up with this vision that sort of embraces the best of a number of bills out there,” he said.

August 16, 2008. Bill would offer immediate relief on property tax. By Jeremiah Horrigan, Middletown Times Herald-Record.

August 16, 2008 Property tax reform bill proposed at Ulster conference. Mid-Hudson News. Also in the Catskill News.

August 16, 2008. Ulster lawmaker, institute chief offer property tax reform bill. Kingston Daily Freeman.

August 14, 2008. Galef pushes for ‘circuit-breaker’ tax relief bill. By Robert Marchant, Journal News.

August 12, 2008. Capping the Tax Growth. WBNG-Binghamton.

August 7, 2008. Finding fair funding in New York without tax caps. By Greg Jobin-Leeds, chairman of the Schott Foundation for Public Education and vice chairman of Education Voters of America, Newsday.

July 30, 2008. A special roundtable discussion on New York’s economic health convened by WAMC-Albany in the wake of Governor Paterson’s proposed budget cuts. Hosted by Alan Chartock.

July 16, 2008. Rethinking caps. An editorial from the Albany Times Union.

We hope this comes as a wake-up call to Governor Paterson and the state lawmakers who continue to push for a cap on property taxes of 4 percent a year.  […]

More New Yorkers, it seems, are recognizing that a better alternative is the circuit breaker, which would give homeowners an income tax reduction based on the percentage of their earnings that go toward property taxes.

July 1, 2008. Tax Cap Hot Topic this Summer. By Karen DeWitt, WXXI. A story about this summer’s battling advocacy efforts – with www.taxcutnow.com promoting the circuit breaker concept and lining up against www.taxcapnow.com.

June 16, 2008. Arguments Against a Property Tax Cap. A segment on Capital Tonight with Brian Taffe. David Little,  director of governmental affairs for the New York School Boards Association, summarizes many of the key arguments against a property tax cap, and FPI executive director Frank Mauro presents the Fiscal Policy Institute’s alternative approach to property tax reform and relief.

June 12, 2008. Too ‘Blunt’ – Objections to governor’s tax cap plan have some merit. An editorial from the Syracuse Post-Standard.

The governor should take another run through his toolbox and consider some more precise instruments. One promising possibility is the so-called “circuit-breaker” plan that is mentioned in Suozzi’s report.

June 5, 2008. Researchers Split on Educational Effects of Property Tax Cap. By Elizabeth Green, New York Sun.

June 4, 2008. Property Taxes ’08, an Election-Year Gimmick in New York State. An editorial from the New York Times.

The best part of the Suozzi proposal could be done more quickly. That is a “circuit breaker” program that would freeze individual property taxes when they became too large a percentage of a homeowner’s income.

June 4, 2008. Tax cap caveats. An editorial from the Albany Times Union.

June 4, 2008. Paterson to propose school property tax cap. By Bob Conner, Schenectady Gazette.

June 3, 2008. Taxed to the Max: NY Homeowners Need Relief. A op-ed by Tom Suozzi, New York Post.

June 3, 2008. Cap called key to tax relief. By Rick Karlin, Albany Times Union.

June 2, 2008. Eying the Bay State’s Tax Cap. By Jacob Gershman, New York Sun.

May 28, 2008. Silver would nix ‘circuit-breaker’: Tax relief plan can wait, he says. By Jay Gallagher, Poughkeepsie Journal. Also in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

May 27, 2008. Tax cap report, though late, still stirring debate. By Maria Brandecker, Legislative Gazette.

May 24, 2008. Property-tax cap on the table: Plan faces tough fight in Legislature. By Paul Brooks, Middletown Times Herald-Record.

May 23, 2008. Tax Relief: Property taxes can be reined in without hurting schools. An editorial from the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Residents are rightly fed up with their property tax burden and rightly concerned about school spending. But a blanket cap on how much their districts can spend could end up hurting both them and their children. The circuit-breaker plan would do neither.

May 23, 2008. Rocklanders hear and discuss plans for a state tax-decrease program. By Steve Lieberman, Journal News.

May 22, 2008. Report blasts tax-cap idea. By Jay Gallagher, Journal News.

May 22, 2008. Property Tax Commission Report Due June 3rd. From EcuProphets,  “weblog of the New York State ecumenical community committed to peace and justice.”

May 21, 2008. Tax cap talk. By Rick Karlin, Times Union Capitol Confidential.

May 20, 2008. Plan would cap property tax hikes: Proposal is one of several recommendations from state commission to be presented June 3. By Jim Odato, Albany Times Union.

May 20, 2008. Learn about ‘circuit breaker’ bill to zap property tax burden. An op ed by Irv Feiner, Journal News.

May 18, 2008. Rockland state legislators to host forum on tax relief proposal. By Sarah Netter, Journal News.

May 13, 2008. Homeowners might get help: Proposal aims at taxes. By Paul Brooks, Middletown Times Herald-Record.

May 5, 2008. How Tax Circuit Breaker Would Affect Your Budget. By Delen Goldberg, Syracuse Post-Standard. Also in the Post-Standard: How would a tax “circuit breaker” affect you? Use our calculator. By Douglass Dowty.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a mechanism to keep your property taxes in line with your income? Proposed bill would cap property taxes based on homeowner’s annual income. About 340,000 upstaters could benefit.

May 4, 2008. Cash-sucking machines. An editorial from Newsday.

Trudi Renwick, senior economist with the left-leaning Fiscal Policy Institute says the formula includes three tiers and at least a half-dozen variables. “To devise a formula that gives money to the highest-income districts,” she says, “you really have to get convoluted.”

May 3, 2008. Property tax burden takes center stage in speech by fiscal expert. By Hank Gross, Kingston Daily Freeman.

May 2, 2008. The problem with property taxes discussed. Mid-Hudson News.

March 14, 2008. State must work to fix property tax problem . By FPI senior economist Trudi Renwick, The Saratogian.

March 7, 2008. Meeting explores options for property-tax reform. By Christine Pizzuti, Poughkeepsie Journal.

February 14, 2008. Griffo cosponsors legislation to cap property taxes for homeowners. Rome Observer.

February 11, 2008. New kind of property tax cap suggested. By Maria Brandecker, Legislative Gazette.

February 11, 2008. ‘Circuit breaker’ program may ease taxes. By Maury Thompson, Glens Falls Post-Star.

February 11, 2008. Griffo boosts bill to limit property taxes based on homeowner income. Rome Sentinel.

February 7, 2008. Little pushes bill to cap property taxes. By Heather Sackett, Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

February 5, 2008. Plan to link tax breaks to income: Lawmakers propose “circuit breaker” that gives rebates to those who need it most. By Rick Karlin, Albany Times Union.

February 5, 2008. N.Y. lawmakers have plan to limit property taxes. By Jay Gallagher, Gannett News Service. Also in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Journal News, the Poughkeepsie Journal, and the Ithaca Journal.

February 5, 2008. Lawmakers plan to limit property tax rebates. By James T. Madore, Newsday.

February 5, 2008. Little property tax bill gets support. By Maury Thompson, Glens Falls Post-Star.

February 4, 2008. Lawmakers Offer New Property Tax Relief Proposal. Reported by Walt McClure, WXXA Fox News 23 Albany.

February 4, 2008. Galef, Little Bill Would Tie Property Taxes to Income: Legislation gains support of tax groups, Fiscal Policy Institute. Press Release, Office of Assemblywoman Sandy Galef.