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Teachout criticizes tax cap, Cuomo receives endorsements

Democratic challenger for governor Zephyr Teachout said Friday

Democratic challenger for governor Zephyr Teachout said Friday that she would abolish the cap on the growth of property taxes, which is a hallmark of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's term. Credit: AP

ALBANY -- Democratic challenger for governor Zephyr Teachout said Friday she would abolish the state's cap on property tax growth, which is a hallmark of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's term.

Cuomo did not comment about Teachout or Tuesday's Democratic primary, but his strategy of using surrogates to make his case continued. His campaign is releasing numerous endorsements of his ticket, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made "robocalls" on behalf of Cuomo and his running mate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul.

Meanwhile, Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, made several stops on Long Island, including at a Bay Shore mosque.

Teachout said she would avoid subsequent spikes in property taxes by requiring the state to pay more school aid and reduce costly state mandates on local governments. She said Cuomo has underfunded schools to the breaking point.

"Andrew Cuomo uses the same strategy with schools as with municipalities, which is to starve them and then blame them for not working," Teachout said on public radio's "Capitol Pressroom."

Teachout said she would continue to reduce state mandates, such as Medicaid, and would work more cooperatively with public unions.

Cuomo has clashed with unions over wage freezes.Whether Teachout's call to end the popular property tax cap will play well in Tuesday's Democratic primary wasn't clear. The Democratic primary is traditionally led by liberal, urban voters and union workers, many of whom have sought greater public spending.

"The property tax cap was politically shrewd, but has caused all kinds of problems and gimmicks on the ground," said former Democratic Assemb. Richard Brodsky of the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. "Teachout shows courage by even raising it."

Cuomo's tax cap is most popular upstate and on Long Island, but it was promised to be accompanied by a rollback of some major state-mandated costs to schools and local governments. That didn't happen.

"Instead of cutting the legs out from upstate homeowners and businesses by ending the property tax cap, Ms. Teachout should commit to removing and reforming the layers of mandates on local governments," said Brian Sampson of the Unshackle Upstate business group.

Yesterday, the Cuomo campaign released endorsements from officials across the state. Hochul got support from several officials, including state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

At the mosque, Astorino said, "I'm running because businesses are leaving this state, and jobs are following to other states, and people are leaving this state. We've got to make the changes today to give them opportunity to stay and find a good job and a stable home."

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