December 14, 2010

Cuomo vs. Unions - Round One

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo is saying all the right things when it comes to property taxes. He has vowed to implement a two-percent property tax cap, recognizing the fact that the burden of taxes in the state is crushing homeowners and is the single biggest impediment to private sector investment within the state. Cuomo is so intent on enacting a tax cap that he is using his leftover campaign funds to wage a public relations battle against the unions that oppose such a cap.

Make no mistake about it - this will be no easy task. While the new Republican-controlled State Senate will likely go along with it, the Sheldon Silver-led State Assembly will balk at the idea. Cuomo will also have to fight the onslaught of unions and special interest groups that will surely come out in full force to oppose the proposal.

Case in point, yesterday's statement by the New York State School Boards Association. "The long-term health of our state demands limitations on the growth of taxes and a sound educational system," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy Kremer in a statement. "But a hard tax cap would clearly threaten the quality of public education by forcing drastic cuts in classroom teachers and academic programs."

The long-term health of our state demands a sound educational system? The long-term health of our state demands that our elected officials get their collective heads out of their asses and start addressing the crushing tax burden. If they don't, this state will be filled with welfare recipients who don't contribute a dime to society, while those of us who don't feel the government owes us a living get the hell out.

And what "sound educational system" is this guy talking about? New York spent $17,173 per student for public education in 2007-08, more than any other state and 67% above the national average. SIXTY-SEVEN PERCENT!

$14.8 billion worth of property taxes went to education that year. Despite the state's massive spending, New York consistently fails to crack the top ten in performance. What's even more disturbing is the assertion that more spending will equate to better results. "The Report Card on American Education clearly shows there is no correlation between educational dollars spent and student achievement in our traditional public school system," said Andrew T. LeFevre, author of the report and executive director of the REACH Foundation. "At some point, state policymakers must ask themselves if more of the same is going to produce a different result."

I think we've reached that point.

The one thing that the NYSSBA does have right is that there must be a reduction in spending if there's going to be a tax cap. Unfortunately, this is New York. The concept of reducing spending is as far-fetched as a Beatles reunion. That being said, we're going to continue to hold out hope for Cuomo's tax cap plan. While we'd rather see him advocating for a reduction in taxes as opposed to just a cap, we understand the dynamics of Albany. Nevertheless, it will not be dull watching him battle the very unions and special interest groups that supported his candidacy.

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