Tax impacts on New York
With the recent changes to federal tax laws, there has been a renewed focus on the impact of high property taxes in New York. We need to address this issue in three ways: making the tax cap permanent; reconsidering how we fund education and provide mandate relief; and tackling out-of-control tax exemptions and abuses.
The Senate has again passed legislation to make the tax cap permanent, which has to date saved taxpayers $23 billion statewide. This bill passed overwhelmingly in 2015, 2016, and 2017* but has not been brought for a vote on the floor of the Assembly.
However, simply capping the rate of growth of property taxes is not enough – we must reduce the main driver of our high property taxes – school taxes. That is why I have reintroduced legislation to allow school districts, at voter option, to phase out school property taxes on primary residences over five years and replace the lost revenue with increased state aid**. This legislation has also previously passed the Senate and died in the Assembly.
Finally, we need to address the issue of out-of-control property tax exemptions. Based on year 2013 assessment rolls, $826 billion in property value, nearly one-third of the value of all the property in New York, is exempt from taxation. In order to reform these property tax exemptions, I have long fought for a package of bills to reign in the abuses in the system***.
I look forward to working this session to bring real relief to the taxpayers of New York.
Senator John J. Bonacic
New York State Senate District 42
Voting reform needed
Democracy is a system of government in which people choose their rulers by voting for them in elections. NY needs voting reform now.
37 states have some form of Early Voting. NY doesn’t. We must make voting convenient to all voters. According to a 2018 Siena poll, 65% of New Yorkers support some form of Early Voting. It is not a partisan issue.
10 states have Automatic Voter Registration. NYdoesn’t. NY ranks in the bottom 5 states of eligible but unregistered citizens, with about 33% unregistered. The national average of 25%. In 2010, NY had the lowest turnout of all states.
49 states have Flexibility to Change Party Affiliation through open primaries or by allowing change of party close to Election Day. NY has neither. According to Let NY State Vote, in 2016 NY ranked second to last with only 21% of all eligible voters turning out in April's Presidential primary and a single digit in the Congressional primaries.
Finally, Gov. Cuomo has failed to call for special elections for the two vacant NYS Senate seats in time for the budget dealing. Over a half-million voters have been disenfranchised of their representation. I’m sick of politics as usual.
Contact Gov. Cuomo and your state legislators and tell them to Let NY Vote!
Find your elected official: www.elections.ny.gov
Write Cuomo: www.governor.ny.gov/content/governor-contact-form
Voting matters. NY needs voting reform now.
For the past decade or so, we, the citizens of the 40th senate district, have been ill-served by our Republican senators. Vince Liebell went to prison for corruption; Greg Ball fled the area under an ethical cloud; and incumbent Terrence Murphy flits about the district posing for photo op after photo op while important legislation, already passed by the Assembly, languishes ignored in Senate committees. We deserve better!
Robert Kesten wants to change all of that.
Kesten, a South Salem Democrat, has challenged Murphy for the Senate seat in the 40th district. His unique life history and experience have given him a deep understanding of your concerns and how state government can and must respond to them. He knows that we must look to the future, not the past, if New York is to regain its status as a national leader, to the benefit of your community, your family, and yourself.
In Albany, Robert will work diligently with like-minded colleagues to pry critical legislation on health care, taxes, election reform, ethics, education, environment, energy, etc., etc., from committee and bring it to the floor for debate and ultimate passage. He will focus on improving your life, rather than just sending you slick brochures (at taxpayer expense) that attempt to convince you that he is actually doing his job.
Now that the Trump administration has effectively declared war on New York, it is even more important that we have a state government that is honest, effective, and responsive to its citizens. Robert Kesten will deliver this to you; Murphy offers just more of the same stagnation.
Learn more about Robert, his background and experience, and his plans for New York at his web site: www.rkesten.com, and on his Facebook page, RobertKesten4NYSSenate. Once you get to know him, I’m sure you’ll agree that he merits your full support and that, together, we can launch a new era for New York.
Joel E. Gingold
Indian Point is already too dangerous - it can’t make due with a skeleton crew
Last week Entergy made clear that it wants to operate Indian Point even if the workers who normally operate the plant go on strike. Entergy asserts that managers could cover the duties of their staff. This is a new low in Entergy’s disregard of safety at Indian Point.
Indian point is an old plant nearing the end of its life. It has multiple ongoing problems that have caused unplanned shutdowns, such as leakage of corrosive water through the O-rings that are supposed to seal the joint between the reactor vessel and the reactor head. A similar O-ring leakage issue caused the Challenger space shuttle explosion in 1986. This problem and others led to a two-week plant shutdown just before the holidays.
Amid the recurrent critical malfunctions, allowing “management” to expand their duties to fill the roles of multiple employees and directly operate the plant is asking for trouble. If workers are not available to operate the plant, the solution is simple. It should be taken offline until Entergy and the workers can resolve their differences.
According to press reports, one of the key sticking points between Entergy and the Utility Workers Union is “what role utility workers will have in the years-long decommissioning process that will follow the shutdown.” The Union wants guarantees that the experienced workers will stay on to do the decommissioning. This is something that Riverkeeper also believes is essential. Common sense dictates that the workers who have run Indian Point for years must remain on the job throughout the decommissioning process. The workers have familiarity with the idiosyncrasies of the old plant and are established members of the surrounding communities.
Entergy’s refusal to commit to retaining experienced workers to do the decommissioning seems to indicate that the company intends to offload its financial liabilities by allowing an under-capitalized third-party to take over the decommissioning of Indian Point and potentially delay the process for decades. As we made clear at our recent forum, this approach is not acceptable for multiple reasons. Most relevantly, it fails to appreciate the key role experienced workers should play in ensuring a prompt, safe, and effective decommissioning of the plant. In addition, allowing the current plant workers to leave would undermine local communities, affecting tax revenues and housing values. To protect its profits, Entergy is trying to shirk its responsibilities on safety, to its workforce, and to the local community. New Yorkers must stand united to ensure that does not happen.
Riverkeeper Staff Attorney