Statement from Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick

“Today, the New York State Commission on Property Tax Relief issued their final report to the governor on how to solve our state property tax crisis. As the commission noted, this is no longer about who, or what, caused our property tax problem, but what we must do from here to reform our broken system. Property taxes continue to soar, and we can no longer afford to provide temporary fixes to long-term problems. It is time we break the special interest grip on state government and make the necessary decisions to reduce costs and provide meaningful relief to taxpayers. Today, the commission issued their agreement that fundamental reform starts with a school levy tax cap and an elimination of unfunded state mandates.”

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.

“I applaud the governor for accepting the commission’s recommendations and I urge my colleagues in the Assembly Majority to do the same for the sake of middle-class families throughout the state.”