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Friday, October 24, 2014

In the fight against bureaucracy, the taxpayer wins

Last week, taxpayers across Long Island voted on their school districts’ proposed budgets. There are 124 school districts across Long Island, and 95 percent of their spending plans passed. But voters in six of the seven districts whose property tax levy increases were higher than their limits under the state cap rejected the “budget busters.”

The message is clear: If you try to exceed the property tax cap, your budget will be voted down.

Baldwin was one of these districts. And two incumbent Baldwin school board trustees were also defeated.

In his first year in office, Governor Cuomo was determined to pass a comprehensive tax cap that would alleviate the devastating effects that rising property taxes were having on our communities. It’s no secret that New Yorkers pay the highest property taxes in the nation, a statistic that has caused southern flight — families selling their homes and heading south.

In June 2011 after several months of negotiations with the State Legislature, the tax cap was finally passed. The bill limits the annual growth of local property taxes to approximately 2 percent or the rate of inflation. The cap can only be exceeded with the approval of 60 percent of whoever approves local spending, whether it’s a town board, a county legislature or residents themselves.

In Baldwin, although 55.8 percent of residents approved the budget, it fell short of the 60 percent needed.

Many school districts have worked fastidiously to keep their budgets under the cap, and they should be applauded. Those who busted the cap were punished by voters.

Cuomo and the State Legislature should be applauded for passing a tax cap bill that actually works. It isn’t perfect, but it offers more protection for taxpayers against outrageous property tax increases. It’s truly a win for the people of New York.

Speaking of taxes, I would be remiss not to follow up on the Internal Revenue Service scandal, in which the IRS is accused of targeting and scrutinizing conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status. While I didn’t think this scandal was a big deal when it first came to light, as I learn more, I see just how dark the supposedly transparent Obama government is.

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