On September 27, Governor Cuomo issued a press release and a colorful report lauding the success of the property tax cap (for a quick summary of what exactly the tax cap is, check out the Governor’s webpage). The NY Daily Times touted that the program will bring “huge long-term benefits for taxpayers and the state’s economy” and has “forced fiscal discipline.” The Governor’s Office said the results show that ” local governments and school districts have begun a course toward more sustainable property tax growth” and that the tax cap “empowers citizens to scrutinize the taxes that they have to pay and take control.”
It is certainly true that average tax rate increase was much lower that it has been historically and well over 90% of the school districts operated within their tax cap, which is very impressive. However, the two outlier school districts we mentioned in our previous post imply that voters may not really be scrutinizing their taxes, but they are taking control. And surely this power shift will ultimately benefit the taxpayers and the economy in a dollars and cents way, but there has to be a cost – and there was. In order to make passable budgets, school districts had to make serious sacrifices. As we noted in our school budget election day post, the State’s efforts to make its taxpayers more solvent threaten to make its educational system insolvent and jeopardize the future of our youth. While the short term impacts look good to taxpayers, the long term consequences to NY’s youth, if any, won’t be seen for years. So, what we save today, may very well be lost tomorrow.