WOODBURY, NY– With New York leading the nation in outmigration due to high taxes, and area residents buckling under heavy property taxes, candidate for State Senate Tom Basile today announced a bold reform plan to reduce property taxes. Basile’s plan would be a multi-pronged approach focused on equipping county and local governments with the ability to budget based on local priorities, reducing cost drivers and converting existing gimmicks into real reforms. It is also intended to give families and seniors greater confidence in their long-term ability to stay in our communities.

“Property taxes are the single biggest issue I hear about from residents as I go door-to-door across our area. Governor Cuomo might think that ‘the weather’ is driving people out of New York, but those of us living in the real world, paying these property taxes like my wife and I, know property taxes are the real reason people are leaving in droves. People are being taxed out of their homes here and NYC-led Democrats aren’t going to fix the problem. We need to drive this change now to help all our people afford to live here, work here and retire in the communities they love,” said Basile, who is running on the Republican, Independence and Conservative lines in November. “James Skoufis has been in Albany for six years and neither he nor his Democrat colleagues have done anything to advance real reform that provides real relief.”

Basile’s multi-pronged approach would address the local, county and school tax burden by:

  • Eliminating school taxes for seniors;

  • Making the property tax cap permanent;

  • Requiring State government to fully fund any mandates on local government; and

  • Returning the local share of Medicaid to the State with a dollar-for-dollar property tax reduction.

“With the reduction in the SALT deduction, now is the time to get serious about property tax reform. That starts with making the property tax cap permanent,” said Basile. Since its inception, the property tax cap has saved New Yorkers over $15.5 billion. Making the cap permanent would save an estimated $66.4 billion during the first 10 years. Legislation making the tax cap permanent has been a priority for the Senate Republican Majority, but it has repeatedly failed with Assembly Democrat’s NYC-leadership.

Basile’s plan also addresses costs for seniors, especially those on fixed income. It would create a senior school tax rate with a 10-percent annual reduction starting at age 70 until the tax is eliminated entirely. This change would save seniors more than a half billion dollars in the next five years alone. To further assist seniors, Basile would couple this property tax relief with income tax relief, by increasing the private pension and retirement income exclusion from $20,000 to $40,000 for single taxpayers and to $80,000 for married taxpayers, over three years. This would save retirees about $275 million annually and would be the first reform of its kind impacting pension retirement income since 1981.

“We have too many seniors who are losing sleep over how to pay property taxes rather than enjoying a well-deserved retirement. This plan will help ensure they can plan for the future and afford to stay and retire in place,” continued Basile.

The biggest cost driver for local governments are unfunded mandates from Albany. According to the New York State Association of Counties, it’s estimated that state mandates consume more than 90 percent of the property taxes collected outside New York City. Statewide, mandate-driven costs exceed $10 billion annually.

To address this, the Basile plan would require the State to fully fund all mandated programs on local governments and school districts. This would force Albany to be more accountable and fiscally responsible.

Of the existing mandates, the single biggest is the Medicaid contribution from counties to the State. To address this issue, Basile would sponsor legislation that reduces the local Medicaid contribution by 20 percent a year over five years for all counties outside New York City. In exchange, counties would be required to reduce property taxes at a dollar-for-dollar reduction, saving local taxpayers up to $451 million in the first year alone, and $2.3 billion when fully effective. County Medicaid shares are currently capped at 2015 level but the current contribution levels still amount to $7.63 billion.

“New York’s Medicaid program is one of the most generous in the country. That’s in part because Albany happily kicks the can down the road and onto the backs of local governments. Getting Medicaid off the backs of local governments and making the state fully responsible for the costs would provide greater flexibility for county governments and reduce the overall property tax burden for thousands of New Yorkers,” said Basile.