Cuomo's Upstate Taxpayer Ripoff Fake Property Tax Cut a Downstate Giveaway By John Tayler

UPDATE: After posted Mr. Tayler's article, Citizen Action of New York released a major study backing up our breaking news.


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s latest budget gimmick isn’t just a fake tax cut - it’s a transfer of Upstate tax dollars to wealthier residents in Long Island and the New York City suburbs.

I am all for cutting taxes. New Yorkers pay too much and too many taxes. However, the Governor’s recent "property tax cut” plan begs for Upstate opposition.

First off, it’s not a tax cut. It’s just taking money out of one pocket and putting it in the other. According to Cuomo's proposal, if a municipality stays under the tax cap then New York State will refund the taxpayers in that municipality the total increase of their tax levy.

Sounds great, doesn’t it, property taxes staying flat for two years instead of continuing to grow exponentially - except...

Q) Who is paying for these refunds?

A) The very same taxpayers who are getting them!

Instead of cutting taxes, Cuomo is proposing a blatant bait-and-switch. He wants to create the illusion that you are getting a property tax cut, and he wants to do so by paying for part of your property tax bill with all other taxes you pay: income tax, sales tax, and much more.

It’s a tax shift, not a tax cut.

Gov. Cuomo’s "property tax cut” isn’t just fake, it's remarkably unfair to Upstate residents.

The lucky residents of Long Island will each receive a fake tax cut of $85 on average. Upstate residents will receive a measly $39 on average. In Erie County, it's even worse: $34 per person on average. Overall, Upstate (counties outside of the MTA region), which has 58 percent of the State population (not including NYC), gets only 38 percent of this so-called tax cut. Long Island, with 25 percent of the population, gets 37 percent.

All told, Governor Cuomo’s fake tax plan shorts Upstate residents over $100 Million.

And remember, this isn’t a tax cut - it’s a tax shift. That $100 million Upstate is being shortchanged isn’t just money Upstate taxpayers aren’t getting - that’s money Upstate taxpayers are shipping down to the New York City suburbs and Long Island to pay for the "property tax cut” there. 

It’s really quite simple, especially for Western New Yorkers: take a dollar out of your pocket. Rip off a small piece of it and put it in your other pocket – then send the rest to Long Island, where they love the Governor. That’s the Cuomo tax cut.

If you're a student of politics, you know this cash flow to Long Island and the New York City suburbs is not a coincidence. As Lawrence Levy, executive dean of Hofstra University's National Center for Suburban Studies, told Michael Gormley of Newsday:

"If a Democrat wants to win in New York, they can get by without doing exceptionally well in the suburbs, but they can't run up a mandate without the swing voters."

Clearly, Gov. Cuomo is playing reverse Robin Hood: he's taking money from Upstate residents, forever lagging behind our downstate brethren after decades of being ignored by Governors, and giving it to wealthier New York City suburban and Long Island residents, who, it just so happens, are more likely to support his reelection.

This, in and of itself, shows how craven this governor is. He is throwing his whole liberal ideology out the window to gain the landslide he covets to set up a 2016 presidential run.

If we had a Governor that was serious about cutting property taxes he’d call for real mandate relief, such as having the state takeover Medicaid, which is crushing county budgets. Erie County, for instance uses over 90 percent of property tax levy just to pay for Medicaid, a state - not a county - program. If the State were to takeover Medicaid, the average Erie County property tax bill would be less than 10 percent of what it is now.

Again, it's simple: look at your county tax bill. Now, move the decimal to the left one space. That’s how what your property tax bill would look like if we had Governor that was serious about property taxes and mandate relief.

Instead, at least for the rest of this year, New York is stuck with a governor addicted to budgetary gimmicks and intent on making Upstate residents pay for not blindly supporting him in 2010.

Let's see if that works for him in 2014.

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