Governor Cuomo speaks out on tax cap
Governor Andrew Cuomo is holding firm on the state's tax cap. YNN's Nick Reisman reports from the Capitol, where the governor says local governments can either live within the two percent or override it.
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As local governments face another year of shrinking tax bases, declining revenues, and a tight cap on increasing taxes, Governor Andrew Cuomo has a message for local officials struggling to make ends meet.
“That's called life and that's called the restraints that you are in as a government official today,” he said.
Cuomo campaigned heavily and pushed for the cap in his first year in office. It remains an appealing message for property owners who live with the highest property taxes in the country. But as county governments struggle to piece budgets together, there's a renewed chorus for Albany to end required spending on the local level.
“We can't lower the cost of government without help from Albany, and that help – the governor is right – he did provide mandate relief through Medicaid assumption, through pension costs, but that's in the out years,” said Stephen Acquario, Executive Director, Association of Counties.
Every year, local leaders come to Albany to push for what's called mandate relief. They say the mandated spending generated from this building drive up costs they can't control.
While lawmakers and the governor created a new cheaper pension tier and assumed some costs for Medicaid administration, local governments still want more help. But Cuomo said at a cabinet meeting on Monday they need to live within their means.
“You have to balance the budget without saying I want more money from above or less responsibility from above.”
And while Cuomo indicated there wasn't little chance of help for counties or even struggling cities, he did note government consolidation – a move he pushed for as attorney general – is one route.
“The conservation on consolidation is a conversation we have to have in a much more dramatic fashion.”
But county leaders say it's immediate help they need.
“We can't be overriding the tax cap. That's not the answer. The answer is reform of government services, it's lowering the cost of government at all levels,” Acquario said.
Budgets for the state's 57 counties not including New York City are due January 1.