ALBANY, N.Y. August 19, 2008 – New York State United Teachers today praised the Assembly for protecting public education and for helping senior citizens and working families by passing 'circuit breaker' legislation that would actually reduce property tax bills for those New Yorkers who need relief the most.
"We applaud Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and other Assembly members who clearly understand the need to deliver real relief to senior citizens, middle-class homeowners and other New Yorkers burdened by high property taxes," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "By rejecting a destructive tax cap, and choosing to push a circuit breaker and a more progressive income tax structure, the Assembly is delivering real tax relief over a gimmick that panders to the lowest common denominator and political expediency."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin noted that a new Siena Research Institute poll finds that 75 percent of New Yorkers support a circuit breaker and, by 58 percent to 33 percent, prefer a circuit breaker over a tax cap if they had to pick only one form of tax relief. "The Assembly plan would deliver tax deductions in the thousands of dollars to those New Yorkers who need – and deserve – relief from high property taxes and would do it in a fair way – based on their ability to pay," he said.
"Under the speaker's leadership, the Assembly is ensuring public schools will have the resources to continue providing opportunity and hope to children, especially those who live in poverty," Lubin said.
Lubin also commended the Assembly's more progressive income tax plan, noting restoration of the so-called "millionaire's tax – supported by nearly 9 in 10 New Yorkers -- would raise a projected $2.6 billion annually for the state treasury. Lubin said a more progressive income tax structure would more than compensate the state budget for the estimated $1.6 billion cost of the circuit breaker.
"It's time for those who reaped the lion's share of tax cuts in the past to now pay their fair share to protect essential public services like education and health care," Lubin said.
Lubin said NYSUT would work with Gov. David Paterson and the Senate to craft legislation that will provide property tax relief without harming public education. "Many of NYSUT's 600,000 members are property taxpayers and they want relief from high property taxes, too," Lubin said. "But not at the expense of their students and their schools."
NYSUT, the state's largest union, represents some 600,000 classroom teachers and other school employees; faculty and other professionals at the state's community colleges, State University of New York and City University of New York, and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.