Every couple of years, our elected officials in Albany rattle their sabers over New York’s highest-in-the-nation property taxes. This chest-thumping is usually associated with some form of gimmicky rebate, freeze or exemption that ends up to be the equivalent of re-arranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic. The iceberg is still coming.

In 2011, Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders took the first step towards actually addressing New York’s suffocating property tax burden when the state property tax cap was enacted. This was a significant achievement, but is only part of the solution.  To actually reduce local taxes, not merely limit their growth, New York must reform the cost drivers that keep taxes so high in the first place – unfunded state mandates on school districts, counties and local municipalities.

Some minor reforms have been implemented which we have supported, but to achieve systemic change, much more is needed and is needed now.

The Taylor Law, the Tri-borough Amendment, Scaffold Law, ballooning pension costs and scores of other state mandates large and small have been on the books for decades. New York will continue to lead the nation in property taxes and out-migration of its citizens until we get serious about mandate relief.

Watch Unshackle Upstate Executive Director Brian Sampson discuss state mandates and the costs they pass on to local governments and taxpayers on TWC’s Capital Tonight with Liz Benjamin.  (Time Warner Cable ID required).

UU's Brian Sampson Discusses Mandate Relief With Capital Tonight's Liz Benjamin