The statewide teachers union this week filed papers in effort to stop Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature property tax measure in 2014: a rebate program aimed at property taxpayers.

In papers filed on Tuesday, the union is trying to hitch the effort to block the rebate program — which Cuomo has referred to as a “freeze” in property tax increases over several years — to the group’s lawsuit filed against the state’s property tax cap.

In the filing, NYSUT argues the rebate program “incentivizes” school districts to submit budgets within the tax cap.

If successful, the legality of both the tax cap and the rebate program could be heard together in state court.

“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 tax cap, by denying tax credits to otherwise eligible taxpayers in such districts. This is done without regard to the current funding effort of the disfrict or the current educational achievement or need of the district’s school children,” the filing states. “Plaintiffs submit that the freeze’s tax credits are thus, an unconstitutional disbursement of sate funds.

The rebate program was part of the 2014-15 state budget agreement that spreads nearly $1 billion in relief over the next two years providing that local governments and school districts budget within the state’s cap on property-tax increases. In the second year, the municipalities must take steps to share services and reduce costs.

Updated: Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi weighs in with a response.

“By all measures, Governor 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.”

A h/t to Gannett for spotting this.

NYSUT Freeze Suit by Nick Reisman