Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered little sympathy today for the plight of local governments, saying they need to do what the state government did: solve their own fiscal problems.
He defended the property-tax cap and said it has successfully limited property taxes in a state with among the highest taxes in the nation. The cap limits growth in property taxes to 2 percent a year, or it can be overrode by local boards or school-budget voters.
“You can only spend that which you take in. That’s life,” Cuomo told reporters. “That’s everybody’s kitchen table. You have a pay check; you can’t spend more than the paycheck. Well, I want to. But you really can’t, and for many years they went right back to the taxpayer.”
Local governments, particularly counties and cities, have been pressing the Democratic governor to enact more relief from state-mandated programs.
In a report last week, counties said they face a “formula for failure.” Under the property-tax cap, they would only be able to collect $114 million in new revenue next year — leaving a gap of $130 million. The 57 counties outside New York City are preparing their budgets for a fiscal year that starts Jan. 1.
Cuomo said the state this year enacted substantial mandate relief: a cap on local Medicaid costs and a new, less generous pension tier—the two biggest cost drivers for local governments.
And last year, Cuomo closed a $10 billion budget gap without raising taxes and spending.
Cuomo suggested there wasn’t much more coming to help local governments. He said they should consider consolidations, pointing out that New York has more than 10,500 taxing entities.
“It’s not called a mandate-relief cap. That’s not what it is,” Cuomo said. “It’s a tax cap, and it worked very well because taxes aren’t going up unless the people want them to go up.”