Fitzpatrick: State Must Make Difficult Choices, Take Hard-Hitting Approach to Cap Property Taxes

Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) today joined Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) in submitting testimony to the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief. Representing overtaxed homeowners throughout the state, Fitzpatrick’s testimony outlined the crushing burden of New York’s rising property taxes and renewed the call for advancement of the Property Taxpayers Protection Act to provide meaningful tax relief for homeowners and businesses throughout the state.

“Property taxes continue to soar, forcing residents to flee our state,” said Fitzpatrick. “We can no longer afford to provide temporary fixes to long-term problems. The state must be strong enough to take on special interests and make the tough choices necessary to reduce costs in order to provide taxpayers with meaningful relief. It is clear that a school tax levy cap is our only option to curb rising property taxes, and I strongly urge the commission to expedite the process for the sake of middle-class families throughout the state.”

Fitzpatrick has been an outspoken advocate for real reform to our broken property tax system since his election to the State Assembly in 2002, and is prime sponsor of the Property Taxpayers Protection Act. The act provides for real property tax reform and relief by controlling spending and relieving school districts of unfunded mandates. The bill, which would save taxpayers $16 billion over five years, would prevent school district property tax levies from increasing by more than 4% each year or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower, and allow voters to pierce the cap with a 2/3 vote. The bill would also require the state to fund any mandate imposed on a locality costing more than $10,000 annually or $1 million statewide. It also provides 100% reimbursement to schools for costs incurred from 4th and 8th grade math and English tests, beginning in the 2008-09 school year.

In addition, the legislation would lower county Medicaid costs and address financial accountability and transparency. Under the measure, the state would take over all costs of optional Medicaid services, and provide money for counties to buy software for Medicaid fraud investigations. An Office of Inspector General for Education would also be created to investigate financial abuse, corruption and misconduct in schools and require that the fiscal impact of each bill be available to legislators before a vote.

“The Property Taxpayers Protection Act is a hard-hitting, comprehensive approach to reform the property tax system,” said Fitzpatrick. “By limiting growth of the tax levy, cracking down on Medicaid fraud while eliminating unfunded mandates, we will take a monumental step towards reforming a broken property tax system.”