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State Senate unveils proposal to restore STAR rebate

ALBANY - Senate Republicans yesterday unveiled a proposal to restore STAR property tax rebate checks, cap property taxes with a "circuit breaker" and institute mandate relief.

But Senate Democrats immediately labeled the package "plagiarism," saying it closely resembles a budget package they have proposed several times, a version of which they plan to introduce next week. The two parties differ over how they plan to pay for the estimated $1.3 billion annual cost of the measure.

"Senate Democrats have talked a lot about property taxes in the last 15 months, but the only thing they have done is to take away the STAR rebate check to pay for additional spending," said Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre)

Under the GOP proposal, homeowners would receive either a check equivalent to their 2008 STAR rebate, or an income tax credit based on their property taxes and income, whichever is more.

The "circuit breaker" income tax credit would equal 70 percent of property taxes paid in excess of 6 percent of income. For instance, a taxpayer with a household income of $90,000, paying $9,000 in property taxes, would receive a $2,520 tax credit. The plan also would freeze property taxes for seniors aged 70 or older.

Democrats yesterday immediately claimed credit for devising the measure.

"Copying or plagiarism sometimes could be considered the best form of flattery," said Jeff Klein (D-Bronx).

Two years ago, when Republicans controlled the Senate, Klein said he submitted a similar package in the form of a hostile amendment with two Republican co-sponsors, but the measure failed. Republicans say that measure would have raised income taxes.

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