Hawkins Calls for Property Tax Cut, Not Tax Cap

Hawkins Calls for Property Tax Cut, Not Tax Cap

For immediate release: June 7, 2018

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, called today for a repeal of the state’s property tax cap. He called instead for cuts in property taxes by increasing state aid for schools and revenue sharing for local governments.

Hawkins blasted both Democratic candidates for governor for supporting the 2% property tax cap.

“Tax cap is a campaign sound bite, not a sound policy. There is nothing progressive in Nixon’s call for an easier voter override of the cap. The cap still freezes the inequities in funding schools and local government services between low- and middle-income communities and affluent communities. It still institutionalizes rising property taxes,” Hawkins said.

Democratic challenger Cynthia Nixon called this week for a 60% school board override followed by 50% voter override of the cap as a reform of Governor Cuomo’s tax cap, which requires a 60% override vote by both boards and voters.

“The progressive solution is to cut New York’s property taxes, which are the highest in the nation outside of New York City. The progressive solution is a tax shift from regressive local property and sales taxes to progressive state income and stock transfer taxes. Then the state should use those revenues to provide adequate and equitable school funding and to pay for the state’s unfunded mandates on local governments with increased revenue sharing,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins said that New York’s property taxes are so high because both major parties have been cutting revenue sharing and resisting fully funding schools for decades. Cuomo has frozen revenue sharing since taking office and is in court fighting lawsuits by high-poverty school districts for the full funding required by the 2006 Campaign for Fiscal Equity ruling by the Appeals Court.

“By failing to fully fund schools and its mandated programs, the state is balancing its budget on the backs of local taxpayers,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins recalled that many progressives, and particularly the teachers union, withheld support from Cuomo in 2010 because they opposed the property tax cap. Conservative Republicans had long advocated the cap. Cuomo embraced the policy and campaigned for it as the centerpiece of his 2010 “New NY Agenda.”

“The tax cap is a reactionary gimmick,” Hawkins said. “It hasn’t cut property taxes. It’s a one-size-fits-all straight jacket that pre-empts local control. The state should pay for its mandates, restore revenue sharing, and let each school district and local government set its own priorities based on its own local circumstances and priorities.”

Hawkins also responded to the statements by several Democratic state senators this week who said they would not support a millionaires tax to fund repairs of New York City’s subway system if the Democrats regain control of the state senate. “It just shows that Democratic politicians are more responsive to their millionaire donors than their working-class and middle-class voter base. Progressives need to move outside the two-party system of corporate rule for real solutions,” Hawkins said.

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