A Letter to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

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

Dear Governor Cuomo:

     Onbehalf of the National Taxpayers Union’s (NTU’s) 18,000 members in the state ofNew York, I write to commend you on your proposals to cap local property taxesand reduce state expenditures. NTU encourages you and your colleagues to keeptaking promising steps such as these away from the state’s tax-and-spend statusquo. 

     As youhave correctly observed, New York is now “functionally bankrupt.” In the pastdecade, spending has skyrocketed by at least $35 billion, outstrippinginflation by $21 billion and personal income growth by $17 billion. New Yorknow faces a budget shortfall of approximately $9 billion. Additionally, thestate has the third-highest per capita tax burden and the worst business tax climate in the nation, according to the TaxFoundation. Clearly, the problem is not that New York isn’t collecting enoughrevenue; rather, state spending is far above and beyond what taxpayers canafford.

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

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

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


John Stephenson
State Government Affairs Manager


CC: The NewYork State Legislature