Gov. Andrew Cuomo will refuse to sign a state budget unless it includes a permanent property tax cap.
The ultimatum was presented at a press conference in Albany Monday. Cuomo, a Democrat, outlined his budget wish list and highlighted the need for a permanent cap. He repeated his criticisms of the federal tax law and the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions.
While he plans to campaign for a repeal of the state and local tax deduction limit, he is urging the state Legislature to make the property tax cap permanent.
The cap, Cuomo said, would "offer New Yorkers some stability in this environment."
The tax cap is one of the governor's signature legislative achievements. It limits property tax levy growth to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is less.
There is some urgency with the tax cap this year because it's linked to New York City rent regulations, which expire in June. The tax cap is scheduled to expire next year.
Cuomo believes the tax cap has benefited property owners in New York. At his State of the State address in January, he said the average homeowner saved $3,200 since the cap's implementation.
Business leaders support making the property tax cap permanent. Former Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who now leads the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, recalled working with Cuomo in 2011 to pass the cap.
"It has been a huge boon to people upstate," said Duffy, who joined Cuomo at the Albany press conference.
The Democratic-led state Senate already passed legislation this session to make the property tax cap permanent. But Assembly Democrats have been reluctant to support a permanent cap without changes.
Education groups, such as the New York State United Teachers union, have advocated for changing the tax cap. Some of the suggestions include eliminating the supermajority requirement to override the cap.
Local governments and school districts may override the tax cap. However, it requires a supermajority vote by the government board or, in the case of schools, a supermajority vote by district residents.
When asked if he would be willing to change the cap, Cuomo responded, "No." He claimed proponents of modifying the law want to raise the tax cap from its 2 percent ceiling.
"If they want to lower the cap, I would be open to discussions," Cuomo said. "If they want to raise the cap, then no."
The governor provided updates on his budget wish list. He is pessimistic that marijuana legalization will be in the state budget. He proposed — and state lawmakers support — legalizing marijuana. But the state Legislature is content with waiting until after the budget is finalized to address the issue.
Cuomo also wants public financing of elections in the state budget. The proposal calls for the creation of a system that would provide matching funds to candidates that receive small donations. It's another proposal the state Legislature supports, but could be difficult to include in the budget.