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Large union opposes a 2% property tax cap in New York State

By PAT BAILEY

(WKTV) - A statewide teachers' union says the 2% property tax cap, proposed by Governor Cuomo, would cripple school districts across New York State.

Fred Monaco, Regional Director of the New York State United Teachers, says the tax cap may be a good thing for tax payers, but in the long run it will hurt the school districts tremendously. Districts won't have the ability to support the programs and services they want to offer the students, said Monaco.

According to Monaco, the proposal means school districts can not put forth a tax levy increase more than the rate of inflation or 2%, whichever is less. If a district wants to raise the tax levy more than that they would need a 60% super majority approval from tax payers, Monaco said.

If that vote fails the district would have to submit a new plan. If the newest plan is voted down a school district would have to revert back to the previous years budget, and have no tax increase, Monaco added.

"What the Governor has done is cut the state funding, and passed it onto the local tax payers," Monaco said. "But he is limiting it to the taxpayers, and their ability to fund their own school districts. We are really being squeezed."

Monaco says NYSUT respects what the Governor is trying to accomplish, but adds he and his union does not have to agree with it. Without a doubt music and art programs, along with extra curricular activities will be out the door, along with teachers, Monaco added.

"The average person at home is going to look at 'Do I want my taxes to go up?' Period," Monaco said. "That is going to hurt the schools tremendously."

Monaco says schools are an easy target of criticism and cuts, because of perceptions. However he says state mandates and demands are becoming stronger while the resources are shrinking.

The bill has passed the State Senate. It is currently sitting the Assembly. Monaco says he hopes that house makes adjustments to it before it gets final approval.

One member of the Assembly says the bill should be modified before approval. 115th District Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R) says along with a cap, the bill should include more state money to local districts.

"To ensure long-term and meaningful property tax relief, we must pass a property tax cap along side mandate relief," said Tenney. "These two reciprocating elements will fail without their counter parts."

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