A state senator from the North Country is confident that lawmakers will reach a deal on a property tax cap before the current legislative session ends.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants tax cap legislation on his desk for a signature before June 20, when lawmakers break for their summer recess.
State Senator Betty Little says lawmakers will be able to strike a deal on a property tax cap before Cuomo's deadline. Little voted for legislation in January that caps property tax growth to 2 percent annually, or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
"I am on board with the tax cap," she said. "I hear from people over my district and any place I go in the state in regards to how necessary it is."
Last week, the state Assembly unveiled its version of the bill, which more or less lines up with the Senate version.
Their bill does, however, add some stipulations. Tied to New York City rent control regulations, the Assembly bill sunsets after five years - something Cuomo and Republicans have opposed, but may relent on in order to get a cap in place.
Little says she doesn't see how the five-year sunset is necessary, given that lawmakers can make changes to the legislation if deemed appropriate.
"I don't really know why a sunset date is necessary - we do put sunsets in legislation as we go along, trying them on a pilot basis more or less," she said. "But this can always be tweaked or changed, if necessary, as you go forward. I think the point is that they're trying to tie it to rent control legislation, which is important for people in New York City."
According to Little, not everyone fully understands how high taxes are in New York state.
"We're not going to attract businesses or people or families to live in New York state unless we overcome that," she said. "I think that having a tax cap is one way to do it."
Little notes that Massachusetts - once known as "Taxachusetts" - enacted legislation capping property tax growth many years ago.
Before capping taxes, Massachusetts was ranked among the highest taxed states in the nation. Now, the state ranks in the 20s and 30s, Little says.
"They [the people of Massachusetts] learned to live with it," she said. "They had some exceptions. They do allow for newly-assessed property to not be included in the tax cap that year, and I know that's one of the things the Assembly has in their package."
Little says negotiations will continue this week, and she notes that Cuomo has provided "real leadership" on the matter.
"We have our sides, and we have some differences in what was on the Governor's bill - the Assembly's bill is a little different - but it will be negotiated," she said. "And I believe we will enact a tax cap this year - and that's an historic moment for New York state."
Cuomo also wants ethics reform and marriage equality legislation enacted before the session ends. Little believes ethics reform is likely, but she doesn't expect lawmakers to reach an agreement on gay marriage in this session.