Next year, state lawmakers will determine whether to extend a cap on local property tax increases. But some fiscal watchdogs say the 7-year-old cap should be made a permanent fixture in New York.
“The Legislature should take the opportunity to make it permanent because it's been doing exactly what it's supposed to. School districts and local governments have been living under it successfully and it's saved billions of dollars for homeowners and businesses across the state,” said Ken Girardin of the Empire Center for NYS Policy.
The cap has been in place since 2011 and Gov. Andrew Cuomo considers it his top economic achievement. He has resisted calls from education advocates and local government representatives to make the cap easier to override. Property taxes in New York are among the highest in the country. The cap limits tax increases to 2 percent or the rate of inflation.
“The only reason to change the tax cap would be to make property taxes go up faster. The only reason to make a change is if they felt property taxes aren't high enough already,” said Girardin.
What could be different about next year is the large Democratic majority in the state Senate. The conference, which will have at least 39 members in the 63-seat Senate, includes suburban lawmakers from Long Island and Westchester County, where property taxes are especially high.
“We're a brand new conference in many ways and we have not had a conversation about many of these things,” said Senate Democratic leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins.
The tax cap isn't the only tax measure expiring next year. High tax rates on the wealthy, known as the millionaires tax, are also due to expire. Democrats have signaled a willingness to at the very least keep the tax rates the same.
“The state really doesn't need all the money the millionaires tax is bringing in right now. So there's an opportunity to sunset it in 2022,” said Girardin.
The new legislative session is scheduled to begin in January.