BUFFALO, N.Y. — At about $50 billion a year, property taxes are the single largest tax collected in New York State.
"Upstate New York, by percentage of home value, they pay the highest property taxes in the nation," Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-New York, said.
Tuesday, Cuomo's Tax Commission made multiple recommendations to ease taxes the Governor said are "crushing New Yorkers."
"If the governor does half of these things, I would be more than ecstatic," Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, said.
Included is a state subsidized two-year property tax freeze for municipalities that stay within the two-percent tax cap.
"I think this is a very good start at looking at giving money back to people, a good start of a discussion," Assemblyman Patrick Gallivan, R-Elma, said.
In the second year, local governments would have to take steps to consolidate and create long-term savings.
"This commission has done its part and now the municipalities have to do their part also, in terms of making New York a place where people want to live, want to do business," former state Comptroller Carl McCall, a Democrat, said.
Western New York Republicans said the proposal doesn't address the expensive share local governments pay toward Medicaid.
"Let the state pay for it," Gallivan said. "We can reduce the county tax levy by a corresponding amount and directly return property tax dollars to the citizens who pay the taxes."
"The biggest problem that I see is that there's no mention in here of mandate relief, unfunded mandate relief, and that was promised right after the legislature implemented the property tax cap," Hawley said.
Among the other suggestions in the report are drastic reductions in the corporate and estate tax rates.
"Businesses and individuals have left this area because of the onerous burden placed upon them to live and work here. This would go a long way to retaining the businesses that are here and encouraging the businesses to come into our area," Hawley said.
Cuomo is expected to include many if not all of the recommendations in his 2014 budget next month.