Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D–Kingston) introduced two pieces of legislation Thursday aimed at improving public education and lowering real property taxes for the residents of New York. His bills focus on modernizing the education system while easing, and subsequently eliminating, the burden of rising, regressive property taxes as a means of funding.
“We must take transformative actions if we are ever truly going to get a handle on the property tax crisis that is crippling our state,” said Cahill. “A property tax cap by itself will not solve the problem. We need to give our schools the tools they need to actually start cutting costs without sacrificing the quality of our children’s education.”
The 21st Century Schools Act is designed to curb school spending through shared services and consolidation by maximizing the utilization of BOCES and increase cooperative participation, using expanded regional approaches to pay for bigger ticket items like transportation, special education and health care. The measure also calls for a complete reexamination of school district lines in order to more efficiently deliver services to school districts. The legislation would create an implementation board modeled after the successful Commission on Health Care Facilities, better known as the Berger Commission. The panel would assure the goals of modernization, educational excellence, efficiency and cost reduction.
The Equity in Education Act would shift away from, and ultimately eliminate, the use of locally raised revenue, including real property taxes for the purposes of funding education. Cahill said this bill is based on the commitment that it is the state's responsibility to ensure that every child, everywhere in New York, has an equal right to a quality education regardless of where they live or the level of their family's income. The bill would phase out school property taxes and replace them with a progressive education income tax surcharge.