ALBANY - Property taxes have become the most complicated part of the already complicated state budget negotiations in Albany as lawmakers try to hammer out a spending plan.
Lawmakers have so far been unable to agree on a plan to cut residents' taxes. Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposal, homeowners would get reimbursed in the amount that their taxes go up next year, but only if their town and school district stay within the state's tax cap.
Long Island's Republican state senators are pushing their own plan. They want the state to give money directly to local municipalities, and in exchange, they would freeze homeowners' taxes. "It would provide two years of tax-free payments to our local municipalities and our taxpayers wouldn't have to make any increased tax payments," says state Sen. Jack Martins (R-Mineola).
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The negotiations come as Gov. Cuomo and the entire state Legislature are up for re-election this year. Insiders say it means that taxpayers across Long Island and the state are just about guaranteed to get some kind of relief.
"In the end, don't be surprised if you see a simple rebate to everybody, every homeowner in the state, whether they're wealthy or poor," says Larry Levy, a political analyst and executive dean of Hofstra University's Center for Suburban Studies.
State lawmakers must reach a budget agreement by April 1. Legislative leaders say they believe they will come to an agreement, which would make it Albany's fourth on-time budget in a row.