School, civic, civil-rights groups try to derail tax cap

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Groups hoping to stop the property-tax cap legislation continued today to hammer home their arguments that limiting the growth of property taxes by 2 percent a year would increase existing inequities in the public school system and in community public services, and that a 60 percent requirement for overrides is “undemocratic.”

The Alliance for Quality Education, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Citizen Action and other organizations are trying to stop the property-tax cap deal brokered between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate and Assembly leaders.

“It undermines the basic American principles of majority rules and one person, one vote,” said Billy Easton, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “It takes out of the hands of local voters, local control and imposes an Albany limitation on local communities that does not currently exist.”

In Massachusetts, which has a tax cap in place, wealthy school districts were more than twice as likely to override the caps, and in the process, they have generated four times as much money as the poor districts.

Wealthy school districts generate over $6 billion a year currently through their tax levy, compared with less than $3 billion a year, according to Easton. In one year, the $3.2 billion gap between rich and poor school systems would increase by $56 million, and it would be more than $700 million over 10 years, he said.

Easton noted that poorer districts have a much higher concentration of black and Hispanic students.

This is a video of Betsey Swan, president of the League of Women Voters of New York, speaking against the property-tax cap legislation today:

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