Note to counties around New York from Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo: “I can’t pick up any more of your bills.”
The Democrat, in a question-and-answer session Monday with reporters, took umbrage when asked about county governments’ complaints about the new, 2 percent property-tax cap and their perceived lack of help from state government.
Among the most outspoken has been Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, who last week called the cap “a farce.” He said the state never reduced mandated spending, as promised, as a way to help communities cope.
Cuomo reacted gruffly and went on a 10-to-15-minute riff about how communities are free to override the 2 percent cap, how taxpayers are fed up with ever increasing bills and how the state has agreed to take over Medicaid cost increases -- not to be confused with a complete Medicaid takeover.
“I had to balance my budget myself,” the governor said. “That's called life. You have to balance the budget.”
Asked if the tax cap will drive local government consolidation, Cuomo replied: “I think the economic reality will do that.”
Cuomo has been touting consolidation since his days as attorney general, saying taxpayers can’t afford the more than 10,000 local taxing entities in the state.
Cuomo concluded: “You know what I want? Mandate relief from the federal government. And when I get it, I'll pass it along.”
Counties aren't the only ones complaining about the tax cap. The state's largest teachers' union recently said it plans to challenge the constitutionality of the law in court.