Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters Friday night that he’ll continue to push for the passage of a property-tax cap in the state Legislature when they return to session after a two-week break on Monday, indicating that it will take negotiations between Democrats and Republicans to get it done.
“We’re going to work very hard to pass it,” Cuomo said after speaking at the Democratic Rural Conference in Schenectady. “Maybe it’s not so bad the Legislature was home for the past couple of weeks because I hoped they talked to the people in their district. I’ve been all over this state and everyone says the same thing: ‘They can’t pay any more taxes.'”
Cuomo sought to dismiss the speculation that Senate Republicans — even though on Jan. 31 they passed his proposal to cap the growth in property taxes to 2 percent a year — are really against the plan because of push back from schools and local governments in their districts. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, has indicated that the GOP doesn’t want to negotiate on the bill, a signal to some that they are out to kill it.
But the Democratic governor gave Senate Republicans the benefit of the doubt, and Republicans have stressed publicly that they want it adopted into law.
“If they were not willing to negotiate, then you could say they are not proceeding in good faith,” Cuomo said, responding to reporters’ questions. “I don’t believe that’s what they’ve said. What the Senate’s position is so far, they have passed a tax cap that basically mirrors my proposal. Now we have to go through the legislative process.”
He didn’t buy the idea that a tax cap and the renewal of rent-control regulations for New York City and its suburbs need to be paired in order for a tax cap to pass the Democratic-led Assembly, which has been largely opposed to the cap but wants new rent laws.
“Is there a chance that the Assembly wants some modifications in the (tax-cap) proposal? Of course. That’s Albany, that’s the back and forth, that’s the compromise and then we’ll see what happens,” Cuomo continued.
As for another tax — gas taxes — Cuomo said calls for a gas-tax holiday around Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day, sounds great, but the question remains whether the state can afford to take the revenue hit. He didn’t rule it out, but didn’t say he was going to pursue it either.
The last time gas prices skyrocketed in 2008, Republicans did as they are now, calling for a gas-tax holiday, but it was rejected by Democrats and Democratic Gov. David Paterson.
“Look, nobody wants to pay gas tax. I don’t want pay gas tax. I want the holiday too,” Cuomo said. “The question is how much does it cost and can the state afford it? There’s a lot of things that are nice ideas and would be good to do. A lot of taxes I would like to make go away; the question is can you afford it.
“Gas-tax holiday? How about an income-tax holiday? How about a property-tax holiday?”
So what piece of his agenda — tax cap, ethics reform, same-sex marriage, rent regulations, etc. — should the Legislature first take up when the return to the Capitol on Monday, the governor was asked?
“They can determine their own schedule. As long as by the time they leave (in late June), they pass them all,” he said.