The Legislature returned to Albany last after a week-long mid-winter break.  The two houses are scheduled to work four-day weeks through March as they move toward getting a state budget in place by April 1.


Last Monday, advocacy groups and lawmakers rallied in opposition to the tax cuts Gov. Cuomo has proposed in his Executive Budget, arguing that they promote income inequality and benefit the only the wealthy.


The groups, which include Citizen Action of NY, NYSUT, CSEA and the Working Families Party, said the property-tax freeze would cost the state $1.8 billion over three years, and the estate tax cuts $750 million per year, providing tax relief to the state’s wealthiest families while hurting schools and local governments.  The groups were joined by Assemblymembers Patricia Fahy (D-Albany) and Phil Steck (D-Colonie).


Also on Monday, the Empire Center for NYS Policy released a report that supports ending the state’s estate tax, as the Governor has proposed in his budget.  The group argues that the tax forces people – especially the elderly – to flee the state, and that middle-income New Yorkers are impacted by the tax.  Also supporting the release are the state Farm Bureau and the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB).


Last Thursday, Senate Republican leaders expressed concerns with Gov. Cuomo’s proposal to freeze property-taxes, and said that they will consider modifying the proposal during budget negotiations.  Under the Governor’s plan, the will put a two-year freeze on property taxes if local governments stay within the property-tax cap and, in year two, commit to consolidating services. As proposed, it would cost about $1 billion a year.