ALBANY — With just weeks until the state budget deadline, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is drawing a line in the sand over making the state’s property tax cap permanent.
The governor won’t sign a budget without it, he said.
“I’m not passing a budget without the permanent tax cap,” he said at a press conference Monday in Albany.
The state Senate approved a bill in February. Now the Assembly must take up the measure.
Passage should be possible with the Democratic-controlled state Legislature, said the governor.
“Democratic Senate, Democratic Assembly — there is no such thing as a one-house bill,” Cuomo said.
The mechanism, which expires next year, holds property tax increases by local governments and school districts to 2 percent annually or the rate of inflation.
Lt. Gov.r Kathy Hochul visited Schenectady County Community College in Schenectady on Monday as part of a tour to rally support for the measure.
Since its implementation in 2011, Cuomo’s signature issue has saved taxpayers in the Capital Region $2 billion, Hochul told the crowd.
She also exhorted attendees to fight against the partial repeal of the state and local tax deduction, known as SALT, signed by President Donald Trump as part of the 2017 tax reform bill.
Under the new law, homeowners can only deduct up to $10,000 from their federal returns.
Critics contend the change increases taxes for homeowners in high-tax states like New York and California that contribute more in tax revenue to the federal government than they receive back in services.
That number amounts to $35 billion annually, Hochul said.
She encouraged attendees to build support for SALT repeal in the coming days by writing letters and reaching out to their federal representatives.
Cuomo said he would make repealing SALT a “singular focus” this year and pledged to travel across the country to garner support for the Democratic-led House to take up the legislation.
The state budget deadline is March 30.
The two-pronged approach — culling SALT and making the cap permanent — marks a full-court press from the Cuomo, who maintains the latter will offer stability as a result of the former.
Hochul’s Schenectady stop marked her third of the day to promote the effort, including earlier stops Batavia and Utica.
And she said while the state budget is facing a $3.8 billion projected revenue shortfall in the next two years, the state’s economic development initiatives will remain untouched
“The last thing we’re doing to do is roll back state investments, because they’re working — we can see it right here,” she said, citing state investments to overhaul the Schenectady Rail Station and downtown corridor.
Niskayuna Supervisor Yasmine Syed said the partial SALT repeal has had an impact on constituents and backs its repeal.
“It’s my hope Congress will act in kind and pay attention to the states and how they’re affected,” said Syed, who also agrees with making the property tax cap permanent.
State Sen. Jim Tedisco, R-Glenville, first introduced the cap a decade ago when he was Assembly minority leader and called for the Assembly to take up making the legislation permanent in January.
But he also wants a cap on state spending and mandate relief for local governments.
“If we’re going to expect our local governments to do more with less, then so should our state government – what’s good enough for the goose should be good enough for the gander,” said Tedisco January in a released statement.
State Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, said he supports making the tax cap permanent, but said the procedure is problematic.
“You can’t bind future legislators,” Steck said on Monday. “That’s a fundamental principle of law. Just saying making the tax cap permanent has no real meaning — it’s a PR device.”
Furthermore, policy matters like the cap should be considered outside of the budget process, he said.
State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, said the cap has been a “successful tool” and making it permanent is a step in the right direction.
“But more must be done to cut taxes and help hardworking families keep more of their hard-earned money,” Santabarbara said in a statement on Monday. “In this year’s budget, the state must do its part to accompany this effort by eliminating unnecessary mandates and prioritizing funding for public schools and other essential services that are vital to the success of our communities.”
Hochul said on Monday this year’s budget contains $225 million in incentives for local governments who have implemented shared service plans.
“We’re surprised more municipalities aren’t taking advantage of this,” she said.
More from The Daily Gazette: