We have the answer to the tax issues and jobs in the southern tier, it is under our feet, and the governor is not helping landowners and municipalities harvest it either. JLCpulse
Written by Joseph Spector  Albany Bureau Chief in

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered little sympathy Monday for the plight of local governments, saying they need to do what the state government did: solve their own fiscal problems.

He defended the property-tax cap and said it has successfully limited property taxes in a state with among the highest taxes in the nation. The cap limits growth in property taxes to 2 percent a year, or it can be overrode by local boards or by voters on school budgets.

"You can only spend that which you take in. That’s life," Cuomo told reporters. "That’s everybody’s kitchen table. You have a pay check; you can’t spend more than the paycheck. Well, I want to. But you really can’t, and for many years, they went right back to the taxpayer."

Local governments, particularly counties and cities, have been pressing the Democratic governor to enact more relief from state-mandated programs.

In a report last week, counties said they face a "formula for failure." Under the property-tax cap, they would only be able to collect $114 million in new revenue next year -- leaving a gap of $130 million. The 57 counties outside New York City are preparing their budgets for the fiscal year that starts Jan. 1.

Cuomo said the state this year enacted substantial mandate relief: a cap on the growth in local Medicaid costs for counties and a new, less generous pension tier -- the two biggest cost drivers for local governments.

Last year, Cuomo said he closed a $10 billion budget gap without raising taxes and spending.

Cuomo suggested there wasn’t much more coming to help local governments in his budget next year, which is due out in mid-January. He said they should consider consolidations, pointing out that New York has more than 10,500 taxing entities.

"It’s not called a mandate-relief cap. That’s not what it is," Cuomo said. "It’s a tax cap, and it worked very well because taxes aren’t going up unless the people want them to go up."

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