State nearing passage of property tax cap

From left: Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, Assemblyman Vito Lopez and Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Democratic leaders in the State Assembly are indicating that they are ready to throw their support behind a cap on local property taxes, according to the New York Times. The cap, which already has backing from the Republican-led Senate, is popular with voters in New York’s suburbs, who pay some of the highest property taxes in the country. But in return for their support, Democrats are requesting stricter rent regulations for New York City, a measure which is strongly opposed by Republicans and the real estate interests that helped Governor Andrew Cuomo get elected. “In a day and age when we’re talking about giving people the ability to live in their homes and not be priced out of their homes, we should not forget people who have rent protections,” said Sheldon Silver, the Assembly’s speaker. “I just think the philosophy behind the tax cap is the same as the philosophy behind rent regulation.”

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Assemblyman Vito Lopez said his committee was working on a package of rent legislation, and that he also hopes to pass a temporary extension of the tax break that would expire on the same day in June as the existing rent regulations. However, real estate leaders are arguing that property tax caps and rent regulation should be considered separately. “That’s unacceptable to us,” said Steven Spinola, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “The cap on property taxes doesn’t apply to people in New York City.” Scott Reif, a spokesperson for the Senate majority leader, Dean Skelos, declined to comment on the Assembly’s proposed rent regulation package. However, he also argued that a property tax cap should in no way be linked to rent regulation. “The property-tax cap should stand on its own,” he said. [NYT]