ALBANY, N.Y., July 14, 2008 - New York State United Teachers today said that the majority of New Yorkers who support a circuit-breaker approach to providing tax relief understand a proposed tax cap is an "election-year gimmick that would do nothing to lower their property taxes."
"New Yorkers, including the 600,000 members of NYSUT, want and deserve real property tax relief," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi. "A circuit-breaker would do just that, limiting the amount that senior citizens and working families would pay as a percentage of their household income without destroying school programs."
NYSUT Executive Vice President Alan B. Lubin said the union was cheered by Monday's findings in a new Siena College Research Institute poll that showed, when asked to choose between the two proposals, New Yorkers favor the "circuit-breaker" approach over an arbitrary property tax cap.
"New Yorkers are pretty smart. It's no surprise they see the proposed tax cap for what it is - an election-year gimmick that would do nothing to lower their property taxes," Lubin said. "A tax cap would only slow the growth of property tax increases in parts of the state, while a circuit breaker would provide real tax relief - in the form of rebates - to New Yorkers who need it most, based on their ability to pay."
"Eighteen other states are using the circuit-breaker to relieve some of the burden placed on them by rising property taxes," Lubin said. "New York should become the 19th state. A circuit breaker is the best way to protect education programs from harm while offering a helping hand to New Yorkers struggling under the burden of high property taxes."
Lubin noted the Siena College Research Institute findings are similar to a poll recently conducted by TREND (Tax Relief Effort of Northern Dutchess). TREND NY surveyed 500 registered voters in late June. By more than a two-to-one margin, respondents preferred an income-based cap on their taxes over a cap on local school levies. When given the specific choice of a 4 percent school tax cap or a limit of 5 percent of their income for their total property tax bill, voters favored the circuit breaker by a five-to-one margin.
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.