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De Blasio: 'Irresponsible' to renew tax break without reforms

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio heads

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio heads to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office in the state Capitol during a visit to Albany on Wednesday, May 27, 2015. Photo Credit: AP/ Mike Groll

ALBANY - New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday it would be "irresponsible" for state lawmakers to simply extend a controversial tax break that he considers a "giveaway" to developers - unless it is significantly changed.

At stake is an obscure tax break, known as the 421-a program, which subsidizes real estate developers to the tune of $1 billion annually. It has been at the hub of three investigations that have shaken up New York politics in the past two years.

It expires this year and, as Newsday reported earlier this month, the ongoing investigations might have a chilling effect on negotiations, with some lawmakers preferring to do a straight extension rather than tinker with it.

 "I think it's irresponsible," de Blasio said of that approach, after emerging from a nearly one hour meeting with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat.  The mayor came to the State Capitol to lobby on 421-a, rent control laws and mayoral control of New York City schools. He also was to meet with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport).

The mayor repeated his view that the current 421-a rules don't do enough to hold developers accountable for building affordable housing units.

"You can't simply extend 421-a without reforming it," he said. "If you extend it, it just constitutes more giveaways to developers and less ability to create affordable housing."

De Blasio wants state lawmakers to make mayoral control of city schools permanent but said he's willing to accept a three-year extension offered by Cuomo and the Democrat-led Assembly.

"It should be permanent, but if three years is a practical possibility right now, that would significantly help us," de Blasio said.

The Republican-led Senate, which backed much longer extension on the schools issues when Michael Bloomberg was mayor, has said it wants changes before it will renew the law.

 

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