Democratic candidate for New York Senator in the 47th District, Michael J. Hennessy, says he agrees with Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s urging of the passage of a property tax cap.
Hennessey says a cap would bring New York State into line with other states with regard to cost of living. Hennessy, however, said he would go one step further, agreeing with the conclusion of a commission that proposed an end to unfunded mandates along with a cap.
Hennessey’s statement follows:
“Two years ago, the Commission on Property Tax Relief appointed by Governor Patterson and chaired by Tom Suozzi issued a final report that strongly recommended a property tax cap while providing a blueprint for how to solve New York State’s property tax problem. New York has the highest property taxes in the nation, the report stated: ‘The debate is no longer whether or not there is a problem, or what caused the problem. The debate is instead over how to address the crushing school property tax burden our State faces.’
“Two years is too long to have ignored a studied response to a critical problem that has hindered the state for several years. Population loss is due in great part because high property taxes. This occurs outside the city of New York because most residents of the City are renters. We in Upstate are losing a major part of the American dream of owning our own home because we can no longer afford the taxes, or as one NY homeowner put it, ‘It was always the American dream to own one’s own home. Now it has gotten to the point where the “home” owns you. There has to be a breaking point, and I think we have reached it.’
One of the outstanding statistics provided by the commission’s report is the top ten counties in the entire country are in New York State.
My research has been extensive, and I would like to provide examples cited by Paterson’s commission, which made several comparison studies, including a study of the Massachusetts tax cap which was recently instituted.”
‘Massachusetts’ tax cap has been successful at lowering property taxes: Since enactment of the tax cap proposition, Massachusetts has dropped from 3rd to 33rd in state and local tax burden. The AQE study says that non-tax fees in Massachusetts made up for the moderated growth in property tax revenue and that total taxation increased from $1,162 per person when Proposition 2 ½ was created in 1982 to $1,281 per person in 1990. This 10% increase over eight years in Massachusetts can be compared to the 56% increase in local revenue for schools that New York property owners have paid over the last eight years.
Like Massachusetts, New York state policy is committed to education: In terms of education funding, Massachusetts has been in the top ten in per pupil spending for the past 30 years, according to the United States Department of Education. New York is number one in per pupil spending. Since the tax proposition was enacted in 1980, the growth of per pupil spending in Massachusetts has averaged 6.4%. New York’s state aid to schools increased by 22% in the last two budget years and is budgeted to be $21.5 billion in 2008-09.’
“Some have claimed that poor districts would be hurt by a tax cap. The commission’s study denies this:
The tax cap will not hurt poorer districts: Raising property taxes to cover a potential shortfall in state funding is not a realistic option for areas with a limited tax base, and recent historic increases in state aid have been targeted to these districts. Moreover, history tells us that the poorest wealth districts on the average increase local revenues by only 1% a year. Thus, for these districts a cap set around 4% would, typically, have no impact.
43 states have some form of limitation on property taxes: 29 of these states have a local property tax levy cap of some sort. The Commission looked at each of these states generally and then focused on peer states, with Massachusetts being the most relevant.
The bottom line in education is student performance: Across the country, student performance is measured using 4th and 8th grade math and reading test scores. According to the United States Department of Education, in 2007 Massachusetts ranked first in the country in 4th grade mathematics, first in 4th grade reading, first in 8th grade mathematics, first in 8th grade reading. New York ranges between 17th and 34th on the same test scores.’
Hennessy stated that the need to end the upward spiral in property tax increases is so overwhelming that it should passed immediately and if it is not, he will be working diligently after he is elected to see that it is implemented in 2011. “We cannot continue this downward spiral in New York economy if we are to survive as a state,” Hennessy said.
-End of statement-