Cuomo Turns To Old Rivals For Tax Commission
Former Gov. George Pataki admits he was a little surprised to hear the proposal from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“I have to confess,” Pataki said at a news conference today on the campus of Manhattanville College in Westchester County, “when I got the call from Governor Cuomo, I wasn’t sure he dialed the right number.”
For Cuomo, it was the right number and the right mix of rivals, union officials and business leaders who will sit on a tax-cutting commission aimed at stemming the growth of property taxes in the state.
As first reported by The Daily News today, Cuomo is turning to Pataki, a Republican who defeated his father for a fourth term in 1994, and to McCall, the man he challenged in a bitter Democratic primary in 2002.
Clearly, it would be fun to mail the video of the three former rivals praising each other this morning to that year.
And there was more than just a subtle dig today at the gridlock in Washington, D.C. and the federal government shutdown.
“We’ve seen the alternative in Washington,” Cuomo said of his bipartisan tax commission. “Everybody loses, literally, because you just don’t move forward.”
Pataki, too, took a shot at D.C.’s dysfunction, tough he insisted he wasn’t taking sides in the debate over the federal government shutdown, which is now in its second day.
“It’s hard to say this calmly, but government has to work,” Pataki said. “When you look at what’s happened in Washington it’s extremely sad for this country.”
McCall, who appeared to be reading from prepared remarks, said the state was in the best fiscal shape in years.
“Governor Cuomo’s bringing us together across political boundaries,” the former state comptroller said.
Cuomo noted that there is cap on property tax increases that places limits on how much a local taxing district can raise with some narrow exceptions for tax base and pension growth.
“We passed the property tax cap which was a radical, progressive step,” Cuomo said. “We now want to do even more.”
How that will translate into what the state can actually do to lower property taxes — a function of local governments and school districts — remains to be seen and was kept vague for now.
The Pataki-McCall panel is also tasked with looking at how to simplify and lower the state’s business taxes.
The Cuomo administration says the existing tax commission created to simplify the tax code following a rejiggering of the rates in December 2011 will run in parallel to the McCall-Pataki panel.
Cuomo said he expects there will be a budget surplus in the coming years, though the state Division of Budget for the coming 2014-15 fiscal year projects a gap of $1.74 billion.
But it was no coincidence that Cuomo held the event in Westchester County, which is not only one of the highest taxed counties in the nation when it comes to property taxes, but also an important swing area for statewide elections, which the governor faces next year.
And the proposal for a new tax commission comes after Cuomo emphasized decidedly liberal fiscal goals in 2013, including an increase to the state’s minimum wage which takes effect at the end of the year.
Immediately business groups began to praise the effort, including occasional critics like the National Federation of Independent Business and Unshackle Upstate.
As Governor Pataki and Comptroller McCall lead this new commission, we call on them to give serious consideration to our New ERA for Upstate plan.
“As we’ve stated for the past seven years, reducing our massive tax burden is essential to a stronger economy and a brighter future for all New Yorkers,” said Unshackle Upstate’s executive director, Brian Sampson. “We look forward to working with this commission, as well as the governor and Legislature, to deliver broad-based tax relief to struggling families and employers.”
NFIB’s Mike Durant added: “New York’s substantial tax burden has been an impediment to economic growth for decades. In his first “State of the State” address, Governor Cuomo acknowledged our high tax burden put New York’s future in peril. Today’s announcement makes those words a lot more meaningful.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on October 2, 2013 at 11:38 am, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|