NY: Governor Unserious; You bet he is!

Gov. Unserious

By Post Editorial Board January 16, 2015 | 8:28pm

Gov. Cuomo Photo: AP

If anyone still thinks Gov. Cuomo is serious about addressing New York’s economic woes, two ideas he rolled out this week should put a quick end to that fantasy. The first is what he calls a property-tax cut. His $1.66 billion plan would provide tax credits for both homeowners and renters based primarily on their income. Certainly, the plan can provide minor relief for some taxpayers. But does it address New York’s overall tax problems — or even just its high property taxes — for the long term? Not even close. As E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center notes, this isn’t a tax cut so much as a subsidy whose cost ultimately will be borne by all taxpayers. In other words, it’s merely a shift (think: three-card Monte) from state taxpayers to local taxpayers. Nor does it provide needed relief from state laws that mandate spending by local communities, which is what drives up property-tax rates in the first place. As McMahon notes, government unions love these kind of “cuts,” because they don’t include incentives to keep costs, like their salaries and pension benefits, under control. Cuomo clearly understands the need for property-tax relief, which he calls “the single-most important challenge that we’re facing, economically, as a state.” “You have no long-term future if you’re the tax capital of the nation,” he said — echoing a point he made a few years back, even as he declined to allow an income-tax surcharge to fully expire, as he’d promised. But without mandate relief and spending cuts, his proposal — as one state GOP spokesman put it — is like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet hole. Ditto for his second idea: handing out $500 million in state funds to each of three regions with the best plans for generating jobs. Frankly, it’s hard to see how these one-time handouts can fix the state’s economy — certainly not like truly lowering taxes and easing regulations could. New York is fortunate that Cuomo knows his state has a problem. One day, perhaps, he’ll figure out serious solutions, too.


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