Cuomo Reaches Tax Deal, Gay Marriages Stalled

Tuesday, 21 Jun 2011 10:16 PM

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reached agreement with top lawmakers on a property-tax cap, leaving gay marriage as the only unresolved issue on his three- part agenda as the 2011 legislative session winds down.

The tax cap was packaged with an extension of rent-control laws in New York City and so-called mandate relief for municipalities a day after the Legislature was scheduled to end, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told reporters today in Albany. Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, spoke following a meeting with Cuomo and Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

“There are still details that have to be worked out,” Silver said. Both parties planned to confer with their members to work out those details, on which he declined to comment further. Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Silver, didn’t immediately return a request seeking elaboration.

Josh Vlasto, a spokesman for the Democratic governor, confirmed in an e-mail that a “tentative agreement” had been reached. Cuomo, 53, made the cap, a new ethics law and legalizing same-sex marriage the top priorities in his first six months in office.

The bill to allow gay couples to wed remains stalled in the Senate after passing the Assembly last week because Skelos hasn’t brought it to a vote. Thirty-one of 62 senators, including three Democrats and two Republicans who helped defeat a similar measure in 2009, have publicly declared their intention to vote in favor. It needs one more vote to pass.

Tax Cap

The tax cap prohibits any annual increase above 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less, unless it is endorsed by 60 percent of voters in an election. It is similar to one successfully championed last year in New Jersey by Governor Chris Christie, a Republican. The New York Senate passed a version of the bill in January.

The tax cap has a five-year expiration date, the Albany Times-Union reported on its website, citing unidentified Assembly members. An extension of rent regulations will last four years, the newspaper said.

The rent-control laws, which Silver and his colleagues have sought to strengthen, are designed to protect the more than 1 million New Yorkers who live in rent-stabilized apartments from rent increases.

‘Mandate Relief’

The “framework” also includes mandate relief, which relaxes state-required spending, Skelos told reporters.

The New York State School Boards Association, which represents about 680 school boards statewide, has been among those pushing to tie the relief to a property tax cap. The group says the relief is needed to help avert the staff and funding cuts that limits on taxation would cause.

Three of the five counties with the highest annual property taxes in the U.S. are in the state, according to the Tax Foundation in Washington. Topping the New York list is Nassau County on Long Island, where the median levy was $8,206 in 2009.

Lawmakers approved an ethics law for public officials June 3. It obligates legislators and public officials to name their business associates and requires lawyers such as Silver to reveal their clients.

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