Friday, December 29, 2006

While Albany Burns. . .

. . .Bruno Fiddles With The Taxpayers' Money

A colleague in bloggerdom, Elizabeth Benjamin of the Albany Times-Union, opines on the new way the Senate Majority Leader hopes to spend our money, without giving a moment's thought to how to fix the problem.

But wait! We haven't even paid the income taxes we owe on the 2006 property tax "rebate."

A heck of a way to end the year, isn't it? Well, if it is true that "you can't fool all of the people all of the time" (except in the Town of Hempstead's Sanitary Districts), maybe 2007 will be the year that New Yorkers finally wise up.

Hold the rebates, Joe. Give us an ounce or two of real property tax relief!
- - -
When In Trouble, Propose Rebates
by Elizabeth Benjamin

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, today announced (via press release) a three-part plan to expand the property tax rebate program that he says would provide $2.6 billion worth of relief this year and $3.4 billion in 2008.

This plan would triple the size of the pre-election property tax rebates ($875 million in total) received by property owners this year, give voters input in local property tax rates and establish a “blue ribbon” commission to make further reforms aimed at property tax reduction.

Bruno said the Senate’s “number one priority” “is to provide greater property tax relief to the hardworking, overburdened taxpayers of New York State.”

“We are building on what we accomplished last year, and continuing to return the state’s sizable budget surplus to the taxpayers,” Bruno said.

I’m not so sure what the governor-elect, who has his own $6 billion property tax relief plan that focuses on the middle class, is going to say about this, particularly since he’s been warning that a spending free-for-all of the state’s expected more than $1 billion surplus would not be a good idea, given its dire financial situation and built-in multibillion-dollar deficit.

Under the Senate proposal known as Rebate Plus, the biggest relief would go to suburban counties outside of NYC: $1,119 on average in Westchester County (where the GOP just lost Nick Spano’s seat), $882 in Rockland, $879 in Putnam, $725 in Nassau and $694 in Suffolk.

Those figures would increase substantially for senior citizens, hitting between $900 and $1,229 in at least 20 of the state’s 62 counties.

The Senate majority also wants voters to be able to collect signatures to get propositions on local ballots that would limit the growth on school and municipal tax rates for three years.

The 11-member blue ribbon commission (three members each appointed by the governor, majority leader and speaker and one by each of the minority leaders) would report by the end of 2007 on reforms to further lower local tax burdens.

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