It’s no secret that Long Island is one of the highest taxed regions in the country. We often hear politicians respond to residents’ concerns by saying they will lower our overwhelming tax burden – it’s certainly my top priority. But as familiar as these promises sound, the tax burden never seems to diminish. Here are six related issues we need to address to truly drive down taxes:
- The gap between what Long Islanders send to Albany in taxes and what we get back has grown dramatically. According to a recent Long Island Association Study, the gap was $2.9 billion in 2003. Ten years later, the gap was $4.7 billion. As our share of the tax burden increases we get less and less back in goods and services.
- Long Island has 17% of the students in NYS yet we only receive 12% of the NYS aid to school districts. The discrepancy is even larger when you factor in the high cost of living. In Northern NY, $1,000 is equivalent to $672 on Long Island. Increasing Long Island’s share of NYS school aid would translate into a lower real estate tax burden. While there will always be some discrepancy, this funding gap isn’t sustainable.
- In NYC, any four-year-old child is eligible to attend Universal Pre-K, and 68,547 were enrolled last year. NYC receives $300 million annually in NYS funding for Universal Pre-K. Long Island receives a fraction of that, and is essentially funding NYC’s public education. Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos figured out that Nassau school districts alone, when compared to NYC, were shortchanged $77 million last year in NYS aid for prekindergarten.
- Buffalo received $1 billion from Albany to help create jobs and stimulate the Western NY economy. Long Island received roughly half of that and we have ten times the population of Buffalo.
- In a July 18, 2016 Wall Street Journal article written by Chris Kirkham, Long Island was found to have the dubious distinction of having the longest permitting process to build a new home in the country. The average time for a residential permit took 11.5 months while cities like Houston, Charlotte and Jacksonville all took 4 months or less. Commercial properties can take over a decade to get permitting approval. Long Island municipalities need to expedite the permitting process for both residential and commercial properties to help stimulate the local construction industry. Developers will go where they are able to build, and Long Island hasn’t done a good job attracting investors, in large part because of the lengthy permitting process. More construction would mean a wider tax base and lower property taxes for all.
- While I served as a director on the Nassau Interim Finance Authority (NIFA) I noticed the County wasn’t aggressively seeking bids on contracts or requests for proposals (RFP’s). All they did was post a legal notice in Newsday and place available contracts and RFP’s on their website. Most elected officials fail to realize that saving money on government expenses is the same as lowering taxes. Nassau leadership needs to aggressively seek contractors to bid. Then, municipalities should only accept a contract of RFP if they receive at least three bids or proposals.
Elections aren’t until November 8th. Until then I am sure all incumbents will say they won’t raise your taxes and we need to get “our fair share.” Addressing the six aforementioned issues would be a good way to show actions are stronger than words. If elected to NYS Senate, I plan to aggressively pursue all of these avenues and more, to ease the oppressive tax burden on Long Island.