Assembly Already Proposing Alternatives To Tax Cap

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Even as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said yesterday he will work with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on a property-tax cap, some Assembly members are again offering alternatives to address the state’s property-tax burden — a clear sign that there will be division within the left-leaning conference.

Some Assembly members prefer a circuit-breaker program, which would tie property taxes to household incomes but also comes with at least a $1 billion price tag.

This afternoon, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, introduced the 21st Century Schools Act, which seeks to “streamline services” by expanding the reach of BOCES and regional services for schools. The other piece calls for moving away from property taxes as the major source of revenue for schools to an income tax based model that would include a education income-tax surcharge.

“By doing away with the school real property tax and changing to a more progressive statewide income tax, we will be able to fund our schools equitably, fairly and more affordable for all New Yorkers,” Cahill said in a statement.

Cahill said he plans to discuss his plan tonight at the Ulster County School Boards Association meeting.

Passing a property-tax cap in the Assembly may still be a tough sell for some Assembly Democrats.

Gannett’s survey in September found that 62 legislators would vote in favor of the 4 percent tax cap that passed the Senate last August. Forty Assembly members wouldn’t respond, 23 said they would vote “no” and 24 were undecided.

It takes 76 votes to pass a bill in the 150-member Assembly, and Cuomo is seeking an even tougher 2 percent cap.

Interestingly, Cahill said over the summer that he would support the tax-cap measure that passed the Senate.

This morning, Silver was less emphatic about his support of tax cap, saying on Fred Dicker’s radio show this morning that “I think we can come to an agreement with the governor on the issues that he outlined yesterday.”

Silver wouldn’t take a stand on whether he supports Cuomo’s proposal that in order to override the 2 percent cap, voters in a community would need a super majority, or 60 percent of the vote. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said he does support the super majority rule.

“I’m not going to negotiate with you on a bill,” Silver said. “The governor and I will have the opportunity based on the sentiment of the conference. Remember you need 76 votes to pass anything.”

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