Democratic state senators from Long Island advocated Sunday for a $200 million plan to compensate Nassau homeowners projected to see tax hikes under a countywide reassessment — days after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's budget director said there "is no funding for" it.
Under the plan, Nassau homeowners would qualify for tax credits to partly offset spikes in tax bills spurred by the county's first reassessment in nearly a decade. Ultimately, homeowners would not have to pay the full increase for eight years. Homeowners making more than $500,000 in annual income would not be eligible.
The plan was tucked into the Senate Democrats' budget proposal on Tuesday, catching some in the party's Assembly contingent off guard.
It is separate from legislation included in Cuomo's budget bill that would phase in Nassau assessment changes over a five-year period. That bill is backed by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, a Democrat.
Robert Mujica, state budget director, said in a statement Thursday that the Senate Democrats' proposal would create a $3.5 billion budget imbalance. He wrote that Democrats were "promising $40 million to Nassau County for tax reassessments. It is another obvious political charade. It is like the $3 billion New York was supposedly giving to Amazon. It never existed. There is no funding for Nassau's tax assessment, there is no $3.5 billion of extra spending as the Senate promises its supporters. The continued creation of these false political expectations makes the reality of an on-time, responsible government budget virtually impossible."
Nassau County would have to opt into the tax credit program and contribute close to $70 million through sales tax revenue. The state would spend $3 for every Nassau-contributed dollar. Senate officials have said the proposal could cost the state $27 million for the first year and more than $200 million overall.
During a news conference Sunday in Mineola, State Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hempstead) said the compensation plan is designed to help those who would take a financial hit from the reassessment.
"We have all heard from constituents who are concerned that a sudden jump in their property taxes would be a devastating effect to their families, particularly those living on fixed income, and especially with the federal government-restricted state and local tax deductions," Kaplan said. "That's why we are working together to find solutions to help mitigate any sudden tax increases."
Asked about Mujica's criticism of the plan, Kaplan said: "This is our first one-house budget, we are within $100 million of the budget that was given by the governor's office ... It will take a lot more than this, there is another house, the Assembly and the executive office that have to meet and negotiate, and we're hoping that we will get as much as we can."
Kaplan was among four of Long Island's six Democratic state senators at the news conference, along with Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen, also a Democrat.
The group also urged passage of a permanent tax cap and restoration of Aid and Incentives for Municipalities funds for local governments.
County spokeswoman Christine Geed said in a statement that Curran was pleased her phase-in bill was "on the cusp of being passed."
As for the tax credit proposal, Geed said: "The proposal in question is a one house bill, appearing in one version of the budget."