January 14, 2009

Tax Relief: NYSUT in coalition to push circuit breaker bill

Source: NYSUT News Wire

The solution to the woes facing many New York property taxpayers is a phased-in circuit breaker that would provide real, meaningful tax relief - and reform.

That was the message delivered at a Wednesday news conference in Albany by a broad coalition, including NYSUT, members of the New York Farm Bureau; the Alliance for Quality Education; taxpayer groups from the mid-Hudson Valley and North Country; New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness and the Fiscal Policy Institute. The coalition has developed proposed Omnibus Circuit Breaker legislation that would eliminate STAR rebate checks in favor of providing property tax relief, based on income, to homeowners who need it most.

"New York's working families have been hit hard by this economic crisis," said NYSUT President Richard C. Iannuzzi in a prepared statement. "The state's leaders should immediately enact circuit breaker legislation that would provide meaningful tax relief, in an equitable way, that would lift the burden on homeowners and, ultimately, put money back into local economies."

NYSUT Director of Legislation Steve Allinger said the bill, which will be presented to legislators in the coming weeks, is aimed at "giving those of moderate means, many of whom have dedicated their lives to public service, the ability to afford to stay in their homes and live in their communities."

He noted that NYSUT has some 150,000 retirees who collect average pension checks of about $34,000 annually.

The proposed circuit breaker would begin in 2009 for households with less than $100,000 in income, providing relief if property taxes are above 9 percent of household income. The circuit breaker grows through 2012 and beyond and, for example, would eventually provide some relief to households with as much as $250,000 in income.

Allinger said circuit breakers are a "fair and just way" of beginning to fix what is broken with the state's property tax system, and is far better solution that a tax cap gimmick, which merely "pits the needs of children against the needs of retirees, and is wrong." He emphasized that the state must also increase its share of the cost of public education, as a weigh of controlling property tax increases."