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A Letter to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

February 3, 2011

The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor of New York
State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

Dear Governor Cuomo:

     On behalf of the National Taxpayers Union’s (NTU’s) 18,000 members in the state of New York, I write to commend you on your proposals to cap local property taxes and reduce state expenditures. NTU encourages you and your colleagues to keep taking promising steps such as these away from the state’s tax-and-spend status quo. 

     As you have correctly observed, New York is now “functionally bankrupt.” In the past decade, spending has skyrocketed by at least $35 billion, outstripping inflation by $21 billion and personal income growth by $17 billion. New York now faces a budget shortfall of approximately $9 billion. Additionally, the state has the third-highest per capita tax burden and the worst business tax climate in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation. Clearly, the problem is not that New York isn’t collecting enough revenue; rather, state spending is far above and beyond what taxpayers can afford.

     Fortunately, your leadership thus far indicates that you recognize this problem, and are taking action to address it. Your proposal to cap local property taxes at 2 percent annually or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, is especially welcome now that New York residents struggle under some of the nation’s heaviest property tax loads. By requiring a popular vote on the local property tax levy for school districts rather than on school budgets, allowing only one resubmission of the levy to voters, ruling out contingency budget gimmicks, and strictly limiting exceptions, the cap will empower New Yorkers to demand real reductions in the education spending that drives up taxes. We are pleased to see that the Senate acted promptly to pass this legislation and hope that the Assembly will do the same.

     Also, your budget for Fiscal Year 2012 rightly proposes to reduce year-to-year spending by nearly 3 percent. While we believe it is possible and necessary to further pare back expenditures, this is a welcome change after a decade of increases. Notably, your plan proposes reductions in Medicaid, school aid, and the state workforce, three of the cost drivers in the budget.

     For the sake of New York’s beleaguered taxpayers, I hope that you will continue to advocate strongly for your property tax cap and spending restraint initiatives. NTU and its members stand ready to assist all elected officials in New York who are seriously committed to addressing the state’s crippling tax burden and massive overspending.


John Stephenson
State Government Affairs Manager


CC: The New York State Legislature