Leaders within the Senate Republican conference today sought to beat back questions raised by some of their colleagues over whether a property-tax cap is still a main objective of the GOP-led Senate.
The split in the conference came after Newsday reported yesterday that two Long Island Republican senators—Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan and Sen. Lee Zeldin—raised doubt that a cap would be approved this year. Flanagan told the paper that, “Many of my colleagues in the Senate Republican conference have made it very, very clear we will not enact any [cap] that could become law unless there are significant modifications, especially in the area of mandate relief.”
But Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, and his deputy Thomas Libous, R-Binghamton, said Senate Republicans still support a tax cap and passed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bill for a 2 percent cap in January.
“We have voted for a tax cap, and we believe very strongly in a tax cap,” Libous said. “We haven’t deviated. We haven’t changed. I think members certainly have their own opinions on things, but at the end of the day, the conference, we put it on the floor and voted for it.”
Skelos also reiterated the conference’s support for a tax cap, but said it is not part of the budget negotiations. It has not be adopted in the Democratic-led Assembly.
“We passed it. The Senate passed. And now it’s up to the Assembly to pass it,” he said.
Senate Democrats pounced on the wavering by some Senate Republicans. However, 17 Democrats in the Senate voted against the tax-cap bill in January.
“Senate Republicans are once again breaking their promise, abandoning their pledge to support the tax relief middle-class families need to survive. While skyrocketing property taxes are strangling Middle Class families and retirees in suburban communities like Long Island and Westchester, Senate Republicans are making excuses to avoid keeping their promise,” said Senate Democratic spokesman Austin Shafran.
“Governor Cuomo has said tax relief is a top priority, but Senate Republicans can’t be his partner in progress if they continue to stand in the way of reform. On independent redistricting and now tax relief for middle class families, Senate Republicans promised change, but we are learning they don’t keep their word even when given in writing. Unfortunately, all we are seeing is more of the same broken promises and costly mistakes taxpayers can no longer afford.”