Now that waterboarding is probably history, may I suggest that suspected terrorists be forced to sit through a meeting of the “leaders” in Albany….
Today, Tues. May 19th, nine members of the Omnibus Consortium representing tax reformers, good government groups, unions, and farmers -including yours truly representing Taxnightmare.org -sacrificed for the cause of property tax justice by sitting through another “leaders” meeting in Albany.
If I never do anything more for beleaguered homeowners and renters in this state, I will have paid my dues today.
Watching these “leaders” play Middle School Gotcha; enduring their eternal tap dancing around sans grace or purpose; listening to them tell about their great exploits in the cause of tax reform-(Hey guys, you haven’t actually done any tax reform in thirty years!) has me- and any other sentient being who sat through that charade- steaming!
Some highlights or should I say low points:
There was an extended discussion on taxing cigarettes sold by-either ‘Indians’ or ‘Native Americans’- depending on who was playing games with the nomenclature.. and P.C. or Non P.C. it didn’t have a whole helluva lot to do with the purported topic of tax relief anyway.
The Assembly Minority Leader said he was enjoying himself and intermittently the “leaders” had a giggle or two over their own wit. I’m glad they think something’s funny about people losing their shelter but the rest of the world doesn’t think it’s amusing at all.
There was extended discussion about reinstating the Star rebate-not basic or enhanced Star which are still operational of course- but the rebate checks that went to everyone alive or dead in NYS including people who hadn’t paid the taxes and multimillionaires who really didn’t need the thousand buck gift they got anyway.
Considering that no one who has been writing in to the Senate website has even asked for the rebate to be reinstated, this was a colossal waste of time.
In fact the clear winner of the massive voting by citizens on the Senate website was the bill we are supporting, Sen. Krueger’s Bill S4239. This probably wasn’t the outcome the Senate wanted to get from the expensive website toy so they simply ignored the results.
Then of course-remember this meeting was about the urgent need for property tax relief and reform NOW- we were treated to a lengthy discussion of who loved and who hated and who simultaneously did and didn’t vote for a 4% tax cap which would raise your taxes 4% every year..or maybe more if overridden and maybe less if only temporary….
….BY THIS TIME -thinking of my friends who were on the verge of losing their historic farm, or my friend who cares for her sick adult child and may lose her home to property taxes which are 50% of her income- I was ready to settle for nothing less from our “leaders” than that they commit ritual suicide which any decent leader would do in Japan upon failing in a similarly catastrophic way.
Since these guys have served in the legislature for a century or more they certainly can be charged with failure for not providing relief or reforming the chaotic, outrageous property taxes at some point during their lengthy tenure.
And oh yes! They chanted “mandate relief” for a while like a mantra….”OM, m-a-n-d-a-t-e relief…now I said the magic word I’m a prince.”
Not bloody likely!
After resolving nothing at all and displaying an insulting disregard for desperate taxpaying citizens, disgusted press people, and ME (now feeing like Mt. Etna about to blow my Sicilian top) the “leaders” got up and left. They promised to come back at a later date. What the hell for??!!!
I have to tip my hat a little to Sen. Klein….though I prefer Sen. Krueger’s bill to his (Krueger’s bill was essentially Frank Mauro’s Bill and it is state of the art), the Senator stayed on message…the circuit breaker, the circuit breaker.
He was met with disdain because he couldn’t tell the assembled leaders, to their satisfaction, how to pay for the circuit breaker to save people’s homes….the same way you pay for your salaries, perks, health care, life time pensions and pet projects, guys…..that’s how you pay for it….and the bill-in both senses- is long overdue.
Okay, enough venting.
I can tell you that Sen. Klein and Sen. Krueger are meeting seriously to reconcile the differences in their respective circuit breaker bills. When they do, the majority leader, Malcolm Smith, who seems steadfast in his promise to pass a tax relief bill in the Senate, should honor his commitment and pass a Krueger/Klein..or Klein/Krueger (this IS Albany and that stuff matters) Bill.
Then we need a bill that is the “same as” in the Assembly-and we’re not talking about the ‘one house’ circuit breaker the Assembly managed to eke out last year. It had some good bits but provided very, very, little relief.
The Assembly needs to step up and provide an approximation of S4239.
You had better call or fax your Assembly members and tell them you are watching!
Now let’s define some of this stuff:
Relief is the circuit breaker…it puts a kind of ceiling on an INDIVIDUAL’S property taxes based on their income.
Reform is the state paying its fair share of education and Medicaid and other services it currently fobs off onto property taxes.
A tax cap on the budget of a school or a government entity is neither relief or reform.
For one thing, it puts the decision of what items to cut in the hands of the bureaucrats who overwhelming keep their own numbers and perks and salaries up and cut the services they oversee…whether it’s children’s services or class size or medical services- to satisfy the budget cap.
Services suffer but the hierarchies continue to proliferate and spend on themselves.
Caps put the foxes to guard the henhouse. It’s interesting to note that Suozzi’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Prop. Tax reform wanted to cap school budgets but NOT county budgets. Suozzi is the county exec. of Nassau county…hhmmm…see what I mean?
A “one house bill” is s device whereby nothing gets done but the politicians get bragging rights. “Well we passed a grand reform bill. It’s not our fault the Senate/Assembly didn’t pass a companion bill.” Yeah, right!
So far we have waited several decades-and some of these guys have been in the legislature all that time- for BOTH houses to pass the same bill so it could become law. Nada, niente, zilch.
An unfunded mandate is the state telling a school or locality to do something-like yet another useless standardized test- and not paying for it. So property taxes have to be raised to pay for the mandate.
This is the year Albany has to come across with prop. tax relief and reform.
The unbelievably banal spectacle we sat through today does not give me much confidence in Albany’s sincerity———–Well, maybe they’ll surprise me.
Gioia reporting from yet another Albany flop.