ALBANY — Democratic leaders in the State Assembly are signaling that they are ready to embrace a cap on local property taxes, which could clear the way for its passage this year.
The cap, popular with voters in New York’s suburbs, who pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation, is one of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s top priorities and already has support from the Republican-led State Senate.
But in what will very likely be one of the defining legislative battles of the year, Assembly leaders are indicating they want something else for their mostly urban constituents: stricter rent regulations for New York City, a measure strongly opposed by Republicans and the real estate interests that helped Mr. Cuomo capture the governor’s office in November.
“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,” the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, said, adding, “I just think the philosophy behind the tax cap is the same as the philosophy behind rent regulation.”
Now of course Cuomo doesn't actually give a shit about homeowners. He is promoting a property tax cap so that he can starve government and claim the state employees union must be destroyed in order for the state to survive, not to save people money on their taxes.
That has been the real rationale behind his entire campaign.
Does his hatred of unions date back to the Carl McCall fiasco when the unions backed McCall over Cuomo in a hate-filled campaign that sent Cuomo down to a bitter defeat and left him tarnished as a racist?
Perhaps he just wants to pay back his hedge fund buddies and Wall Street cronies for all their largess over the past few years.
More than likely it is a little bit of both.
Regardless, Shelly tying strengthened rent regulations to the property tax cap does force Cuomo to have to make a move he isn't going to want to make and expose himself as a landlord shill.
Here is what Shelly wants from the deal:
The position taken by Mr. Silver and other Assembly leaders is significant, because the Assembly has in recent years been the place in Albany where proposals to cap property taxes meet a quiet death. His Democratic caucus is dominated by New York City lawmakers whose constituents often do not own homes, and Mr. Silver is tightly allied with public employees’ unions worried over the cuts to local government spending that caps would require.
The Assembly is also a bastion of support for expanded rent regulations and has passed a package of such legislation several times in recent years — proposals that have gone nowhere in the Senate, even during the last two years, when it was controlled by Democrats.
Mr. Lopez said his committee was moving fast on an ambitious package of rent legislation, including a bill to abolish vacancy decontrol, a procedure that has allowed owners of rent-regulated apartments to move hundreds of thousands of units out of the rent-stabilization system, according to estimates by tenant advocates. He also said he hoped to pass a temporary extension of the tax break that would expire on the same day in June as the existing rent regulations.
“Those three issues have to be looked at and somehow thought of in an interrelated way,” Mr. Lopez said.
About one million apartments in the city’s five boroughs, roughly half of all rental units, are covered by the existing laws, which sharply limit landlords’ ability to raise rents and keep many apartments, particularly in Manhattan, renting at well below market value. Currently, apartments become deregulated when the rent reaches $2,000 and total household income of the tenants is at least $175,000 annually for two years.
Mr. Silver said he would like not only to preserve those protections, but also to expand them, by raising the income and rent thresholds.
“You want to preserve people making $210,000, $225,000 a year, living where they’re living,” Mr. Silver said.
One model could be a bill that has passed the Assembly twice in recent years: It would raise the thresholds for so-called high-income decontrol to $2,700 in monthly rent and $240,000 in annual income.
Cuomo has been noncommittal, issuing some boilerplate jive about wanting both rent protections for renters and a freed up market for landlords.
But here's what the real estate criminals think about the proposal:
But the notion of a three-issue deal was quickly criticized by real estate leaders, who argued that property-tax caps and rent regulation should be considered separately.
“That’s unacceptable to us; the cap on property taxes doesn’t apply to people in New York City,” said Steven Spinola, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York. “The game of the Legislature is to negotiate and to make connections, and that’s traditionally what Albany and Washington have done. We saw nothing happen in Washington because of that policy, and I’m not sure anything gets accomplished in New York.”
Scott Reif, a spokesman for the Senate majority leader, Dean G. Skelos of Long Island, declined to comment on the Assembly’s proposed rent regulation package, though Republicans have tended to oppose such measures. But he joined Mr. Spinola in arguing that a property tax cap should in no way be linked to rent regulation.
“The property-tax cap should stand on its own,” Mr. Reif said. “It was a centerpiece of the new governor’s agenda. There are many members on both sides of the aisle who ran in support of a property-tax cap. So we should get a result.”
Now if this is what the real estate criminals and Senate Republicans think, then of course this is what Cuomo thinks too.
So when he finally does get the courage to come out in the open and say the property tax cap must not be tied to strengthened rent regulations, Assembly Dems must nail him hard, fast, and often as a real estate industry shill who is happy to keep taxes low on millionaires and cut taxes for suburbanites but actively works against apartment dwellers in New York City.
And if I were the unions, I would go up with ads bashing Cuomo over the rent regulations sell-out in NYC.
Cuomo has already declared the unions Public Enemy #1.
They may as well dispense with the early term niceties and start working to lower his approval ratings now.
One way to do that is to expose him as corporate shill every time he screws working and middle class people for his rich Wall Street, corporate and real estate criminal friends.
This issue seems tailor made for that.