NY Assembly favors property tax 'circuit breaker'

Created: 03/11/2014 8:59 PM WHEC.com
By: Associated Press

The leader of the Democrat-controlled state Assembly said Tuesday their budget proposal will include a property tax "circuit breaker" instead of the rebate program sought by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Speaker Sheldon Silver made the comment to state Capitol reporters as negotiations between legislative leaders and Cuomo over the state budget due April 1 enter the final weeks. The Assembly and the state Senate each were expected to vote Wednesday on separate budget proposals staking out their positions on the fiscal plan.

Cuomo's budget proposal to "freeze" property taxes through rebates to homeowners in municipalities and school districts that meet cost-cutting and shared-services goals is unpopular with many state lawmakers and the local officials they represent. Under Cuomo's incentive plan, if there's no cost-saving agenda from local officials, their homeowners won't get tax rebates.

Silver said Assembly Democrats feel the governor's proposal is not broad enough and makes the relief to homeowners contingent on local officials' actions.

"Their feeling is everybody needs property tax relief and we want to get it to the most people that we can in the most efficient way," Silver said.

The Assembly will instead propose expanding another property tax relief plan in Cuomo's budget - a "circuit breaker" that takes into account property tax burdens relative to homeowner income. Silver did not immediately provide details on how the Assembly plan would work or how much it would cost.

"We're glad the Assembly agrees with the governor that property taxes need to be lowered," said Cuomo's top aide, Larry Schwartz. "However, local governments need to find ways to cut costs, share services and lower the tax burden in order to make this relief lasting."

The Assembly Democrats' budget also will tweak Cuomo's proposal to raise New York's estate tax threshold above $1 million and reduce the rate from 16 percent to 10 percent. The proposal, which would bring New York in line with the federal threshold of $5.34 million, has been derided by labor and religious groups as a windfall for the wealthy.

Silver said they will propose raising the threshold to a level he did not specify and leave the 16 percent rate unchanged.

There were no details Tuesday on the budget proposal from the state Senate, which is ruled by a coalition of Republicans and breakaway Democrats.

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