The leader of the statewide teachers’ union said Friday the organization is preparing to challenge in court the state-mandated property-tax cap.
During a radio interview Friday, New York State United Teachers President Richard Iannuzzi said, “We will go to court” over the tax cap, which has limited school districts’ revenue. The cap combined with cuts in state aid have caused many districts to lay off faculty and staff in recent years.
Following up with reporters later, Iannuzzi said the group would file “some kind of litigation around the property-tax cap on issues of equity and whether it’s a Democratic process or not.”
“As we look at the impact of both the cuts in state aid and the property tax, the reality is that the wealth gap and the ability of poorer school districts to provide a sound basic education, whatever that means today, is much more difficult than it has been in the past — and much more difficult than it is for wealthier districts,” Iannuzzi said. “So, just on its face, what’s the reason for that? And is it the property tax cap, and is it the way we fund education?
“Obviously that has to be tested someplace, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be tested in the Legislature, so I guess it’ll have to be tested in the courts,” he continued.
He said NYSUT would probably file the lawsuit within “several months,” although Iannuzzi is waiting for the union’s attorneys to draft something “they really feel is in the right shape,” he said.
On Capitol Pressroom, a public radio program, he called the suit “probably not that far off,” affirming that the group might file around Jan. 1.
The cap prevents local governments from raising property taxes by more than 2 percent a year or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. The law allows a community to override the cap if 60 percent vote in favor to do so.
The first year, 92 percent of school districts stayed within their tax cap limit.
“Conceivably, it could even wait until the second vote, the second year of votes, but preferably it won’t wait that long,” he told reporters.
There was no immediate comment from the governor’s office.