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Former Lt. Gov. Duffy leads push to make tax cap permanent

Then-Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy is seen in

Then-Lt. Gov. Robert J. Duffy is seen in 2011. Credit: Danielle Silverman

Former Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy and a coalition of business groups ventured to the State Capitol on Tuesday to call on lawmakers to make the state’s 2 percent property tax cap permanent.

 The tax cap has saved property owners more than $20 billion since it was enacted in 2011 on a temporary basis, said Duffy, who was in office then as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s first-term lieutenant governor. Instead of renewing the cap every few years, Duffy, echoing his former boss, said the state Legislature should remove the uncertainty.

It would help property owners and make sure New York “stays competitive” in the business world, said Duffy, who returned to his hometown in 2015 and now is CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce.

The cap isn’t a hard limit on spending increases. Rather, it mandates that any school district or local government board seeking to raise taxes more than 2 percent or the annual rate of inflation (whichever is less) must attain a 60 percent “supermajority” vote to do so. Schools and local governments largely have adhered to the cap since its implementation.

“Two percent growth is not a cut. It mirrors the average wage growth,” Duffy said, noting that, prior to the cap, school budgets were growing at  about 6 percent a year, a rate he called unsustainable.

The Democratic-led state Senate already has approved a bill to make the cap permanent. The Assembly, also controlled by Democrats, has said it’s weighing the idea, but has indicated the  matter is tied to the renewal of New York City rent-control laws, which expire this year.

Some education groups and teachers’ unions have opposed the cap, saying it has especially hurt poorer school districts and triggered program reductions.

 Duffy was joined by the Long Island Association, the state Business Council, the Business Council of Westchester County and several Republican Assembly members.

 Without the cap, homeowners faced being “taxed right outta here,” said Assemb. Joseph DeStefano (R-Medford).

 “The property-tax cap is working,” added LIA CEO Kevin Law.

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