April 28, 2008
To the Editor:
With our work on the state budget for 2008-09 complete, I am aware that our sluggish economy still challenges state and local governments to be able to continue offering the same level of services we have come to expect. I remain committed to making sure that is possible. As chairperson of the Assembly Real Property Taxation Committee, I also understand the complexities of property taxes and how much of a burden they have come to represent for our state. That is why, in 2006 I called for a Blue Ribbon Commission to conduct an in-depth study of property taxation in the state. I was very pleased that in January, Executive Order #22 set up the Commission on Property Tax Relief to serve in the same way.
This Commission will issue its first set of recommendations to the governor on May 22nd. I have invited chairman of the commission, Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, to present these recommendations to interest groups and the public on Monday, June 9th, from 7-9pm at Putnam Valley High School, 146 Peekskill Hollow Road, Putnam Valley. This is a terrific opportunity to hear first hand how the Commission came up with its recommendations and suggested next steps. The recommendations will focus on three areas: property tax caps, a circuit breaker, and mandate relief. These are all areas I have been working on in Albany.
I have also introduced a number of bills in the Assembly to provide relief. My unfunded mandate bill (A.2508/S.3084) requires state funding be provided for any new mandates the state imposes on local governments. My circuit breaker bill (A.1575-A/S.1053-A) would replace the Middle Income STAR rebate check with a tax break that takes into account the relationship of a person’s income to the property taxes he/she pays. I’ve received a lot of support for this bill from taxpayer groups as well as the Fiscal Policy Institute. My Medicaid reform bill (A.5816) requires the state to take over the total funding of medical assistance for those in need, relieving the county tax burden. WICKS reform has finally been approved which allows local governments and school districts to use a single general contractor on jobs that cost up to $1.5 million, saving taxpayers money.
We have many challenges ahead of us to continue to provide a high level of service with a minimal impact on our wallets. I will continue to work hard for necessary changes.
Sandy Galef, Assemblywoman 90 AD