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Judge again rejects property-tax cap lawsuit

A lower-level state court recently dismissed an amended

A lower-level state court recently dismissed an amended lawsuit by teachers' unions seeking to overturn the state's property tax cap. Photo Credit: Photos.com

ALBANY - A lower-level state court has dismissed an amended lawsuit by teachers' unions seeking to overturn the state's property tax cap.

The rejection was expected somewhat, given the dismissal of the union's original complaint in September.

New York State United Teachers argued that the property-tax cap, enacted in 2011, is unconstitutional because it erodes local control of school finances, harms impoverished districts and violates the principal of  “one man, one vote.” The tax cap law dictates that a 60 percent majority is required to override the cap, which is set at 2 percent growth, adjusted for inflation and other factors.

State Supreme Court Judge Patrick McGrath rejected the union’s argument.

“There is little doubt that the credit is designed to influence voters to stay within the cap,” McGrath wrote. “However, this does not render the law unconstitutional.”   

McGrath had dismissed the union’s original complaint six months ago, but allowed NYSUT to amend its lawsuit to cover a “tax freeze” proposal Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers approved in 2014.

The union is expected to appeal.

The Cuomo administration cheered McGrath's decision.

"Taxpayers prevailed today as yet another meritless special interest lawsuit that sought to undo the progress made under Governor Cuomo failed in the courts," Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said in an email. "The fact remains that the tax cap has successfully reined in out-of-control property tax increases – something that has only been strengthened by the tax freeze."

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