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The Telegram
  • Cuomo to cut property taxes, not income tax hikes

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  • ALBANY (AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is promising to use a rare budget surplus to cut local property taxes during the coming election year, but he won’t touch temporary tax increases he’s extended twice.
    Cuomo tells public radio’s “Capitol Pressroom” that the state has no future as the highest taxed in the country.
    “The property tax is a crusher, especially in the suburbs and upstate New York,” Cuomo told public radio’s “Capitol Pressroom” this week. “We do have funds to do a tax cut, because we have exercised discipline in spending.”
    Cuomo budget spokesman Morris Peters said Wednesday that if the state continues to hold spending 2 percent or less as directed by Cuomo, growing revenue will address a $1.7 billion deficit that was projected for the 2014-15 budget due April 1 and pay for a state subsidy to reduce local property taxes.
    But in Tuesday’s radio interview, Cuomo said he won’t end or ease billions of dollars in temporary income and business taxes — already twice extended — despite his promises to end those taxes during his 2010 campaign. He doesn’t consider those tax increases because they were extended before they expired and because they include a rare but small tax break for middle class families.
    Those taxes, including the so-called millionaire’s tax that he and Senate Republicans opposed in 2010 as a job-killer, bring more than $2 billion a year to the state budget. The first income tax surcharge on the wealthiest New Yorkers was passed days before it expired and the second extension was passed earlier this year. That extension came a year ahead of schedule — and avoided a politically unpopular passage during an election year.
    A co-chairman of Cuomo’s tax cutting commission, former Republican Gov. George Pataki, has said he wants to recommend a cut in the personal income tax. But Cuomo said he didn’t want to deal with the personal income tax for the second time in two years.
    E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy says the state cost of subsidizing a property tax cut would be roughly equal to the revenue from the temporary tax increases Cuomo promised he’d let expire. The tax is next due to expire in two years.
    “His position basically is to have people believe, ‘We’ve done it,’ but what he’s done twice is extend an enormous tax increase with a small cut for the middle class,’ McMahon said.
    Cuomo isn’t saying how he would cut local property taxes, which can’t be done directly in Albany. Instead, Albany under Pataki created the STAR tax relief program that uses state funding to subsidize local taxes. In addition, Cuomo said he is interested in a “circuit breaker” long supported by Democrats that would factor household income into the property tax break with a goal of providing deeper cuts to families that need them most.
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