Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top aide had some stern words for opponents of the state’s 2 percent property-tax cap, telling them to “stay home” if they want to raise taxes in Albany.
Larry Schwartz, Cuomo’s chief of staff, appeared on an Albany radio program Thursday to push back against a pair of reports issued this week that were highly critical of the state’s tax climate, including a Tax Foundation report that ranked New York 50th in the country.
But as the conversation turned toward the steps Cuomo has taken to rein in taxes and spending, Schwartz issued a warning for opponents of the tax cap.
“If there’s anybody running for office this year that doesn’t support the governor’s property-tax cap and they think their property taxes should be higher than the tax cap, then they shouldn’t come to Albany, they should stay home,” Schwartz told host Fred Dicker on WGDJ (1300AM) in Albany.
He continued: “Here’s my advice to every candidate who doesn’t support the property-tax cap: If you think you’re going to come to Albany to raise taxes, forget it. Stay home.”
The tax cap, enacted in 2011, limits the amount local governments can raise their tax levy to 2 percent, with some exemptions for growth in pension costs or business expansion. It’s become a hot topic in a number of key state Senate races, with a candidates’ vote or position on the issue closely scrutinized.
Schwartz was highly critical of the reports from the conservative Tax Foundation and libertarian Cato Institute, which he said were “more based on ideology and not facts.”
“They basically took a bunch of data sets and manipulated them to fit their world view, which is they support a flat tax, not a progressive tax like we have here in New York state,” Schwartz said. “If they were really being honest about it they would have weighted all of their data sets equally.”
Specifically, Schwartz said the Tax Foundation put too much of an emphasis on the impact of corporate taxes rather than the impact of property taxes, which he said represent a greater burden to businesses. He pointed to steps Cuomo, a Democrat, has successfully pushed in his 21 months as governor, including the tax cap, making changes the state’s income-tax brackets and eliminating part of the MTA payroll tax.
“The property-tax burden on businesses is far greater than corporate taxes are,” Schwartz said. “If they had bothered to look at the facts, they would have known that New York businesses pay over five times as much in property taxes to localities as they do in income taxes.”
Schwartz also cited a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce report — which put New York as No. 10 on its list of “Enterprising States” — as a better metric of the state’s business climate.