BY EJ MCMAHON
The impending enactment of a permanent property tax levy cap in New York is a truly historic moment.
Since its founding in 2005, the Empire Center has identified a broad cap on property tax levies as a top policy priority.
For years, conventional political wisdom in Albany assumed that such a reform could never be enacted here. But we persisted in explaining how a fair and flexible Massachusetts-style tax cap could be implemented in New York.
Fortunately, Governor Cuomo didn’t listen to the naysayers, either. The governor is justly criticized for a lot of things—but he deserves all the credit he will claim for initiating this significant reform, sticking with it and pushing it across the finish line.
The tax cap has been extensively analyzed and debated for eight years now. It has saved New York homeowners and businesses billions of dollars since 2011. Based on its proven track record of effectiveness and popularity, it clearly has been working and deserved to be made permanent. Unfortunately, the cap was embedded in a package of fiscal 2020 budget legislation that also featured a wide variety of extraneous initiatives, objectionable provisions and disturbing precedents.
Under this budget, state taxes will be raised even more than the governor proposed, new health insurance coverage mandates will drive premiums even higher for workers and employers, and local governments and school districts will be saddled with even more costly state mandates.
The permanent tax cap is a big step forward for New York. But in other respects, the new budget package leaves more than ever to be done to make the state an affordable and competitive place to live, work and do business.
EJ McMahon is the executive director of the Empire Center for Public Policy.