The state’s largest teachers union is challenging New York’s property tax freeze.
New York State United Teachers has filed a motion seeking to amend its 2013 legal challenge to the property tax cap to include a challenge to the recently enacted property tax freeze.
Union President Karen E. Magee said it is clear the tax freeze credit program and tax cap are intertwined. Both, she said, violate the state constitution.
“Public schools are still reeling from budget cuts. The tax freeze program is a gimmick that dangles a check in front of taxpayers as a carrot to go along with the cap’s stick,” Magee said. “Both the so-called property tax freeze and tax cap undermine local control and only worsen the already devastating funding gap between low and high wealth school districts.”
The motion argues that the two laws, which operate in unison, deprive taxpayers of their constitutional right to determine local school funding levels, and that the challenge to both laws should be decided together.
The motion is now before a State Supreme Court justice in Rensselaer County. If the judge agrees, the union’s case against both the tax cap and tax freeze credit program would be combined and heard at a later date.
“The tax freeze, in essence, financially incentivizes school districts and voters to stay within the cap. It also effectively punishes districts, voters, taxpayers and school children in districts where school boards and voters exercise their constitutionally protected right to exceed the cap, by denying tax credits to otherwise eligible taxpayers in such districts,” the motion states. “This is done without regard to the current funding effort of the district or the current educational achievement or needs of the district’s school children.”
A spoksman for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said, “By all measures, Gov. Cuomo’s tax cap has successfully reined in property tax increases and – with the reforms passed in this year’s budget – the tax cap has been turned into a tax cut. New York taxpayers simply cannot afford to return to the bad old days of skyrocketing tax bills, little accountability and schools with the highest costs in the nation without the results to match.”