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Westchester State Senate Candidate Wagner Unveils Property Tax Plan

State Senate candidate Justin Wagner unveils his three point plan for property tax relief.
State Senate candidate Justin Wagner unveils his three point plan for property tax relief. Photo Credit: Sam Barron
Justin Wagner's three point plan for property tax reform.
Justin Wagner's three point plan for property tax reform. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- State Senate candidate Justin Wagner has unveiled his plan to reduce the property tax burden in New York.

Wagner, who is running as a Democrat in the 40th district, unveiled his three point plan at Harrison Street Park in Croton-on-Hudson on Tuesday, flanked by County Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining) and Cortlandt Supervisor Linda Puglisi.

One of Wagner's ideas is a constitutional amendment blocking new unfunded mandates. The proposed amendment has been sponsored by state Sen. Terry Gipson (D-Dutchess, Putnam).

Wagner said, "It's the state that's been forcing our local government to raise taxes, by pushing down costs and imposing mandates. My three-point plan will get the major cost drivers behind under control. If the state has a good idea, it should pay for it."

Wagner said the amendment will ensure property taxes remain under control by prohibiting unfunded mandates.

The amendment would create a new state council to rule on whether new state laws and rules create unfunded mandates for local governments.

Wagner's other two plans are having the state, rather than counties, pay for Medicaid and providing relief to local municipalities for spikes in pension costs. New York is one of only a few states that force Medicaid costs on county government.

In 2012, counties had to pay $7.3 billion in Medicaid costs.

“It makes no sense to have every county in the state, maintain its own county Medicaid bureaucracy,” said Wagner.

Wagner said the state should provide some relief for municipalities that often face unexpected spikes in pension costs. Many municipalities have had to adjust their budgets due to rapid increases in pension costs.

“Local property taxpayers should not be hit with double-digit tax increases to make up for stock market downturns," Wagner said. "The state should take responsibility for smoothing out pension cost spikes in the state-mandated, state-administered pension system.

A spokesman for Terrence Murphy, who is running for the Republican nomination, said Wagner's plan is nothing new.

"Terrence Murphy has actually cut taxes in Yorktown not once but twice," T.J. McCormack said. "That hadn't happened in nearly a generation. Dr. Murphy has a record. Experience is what counts."

Charlie Banks, a spokesman for Bob Castelli, the other candidate for the Republican nomination, said Castelli knows how to get tax reform in Albany done.

"Assemblyman Castelli helped shepherd both a much-needed middle-class tax cut and a property tax cap through a hostile Legislature, two conservative agenda items that had been sitting idle for years," Banks said. Bob Castelli is the only candidate in this race who has shown that he can do it."

The 40th District includes Mount Pleasant, New Castle, Mount Kisco, Cortlandt, Peekskill, Yorktown, Somers, North Salem, Lewisboro and Pound Ridge in Westchester; Carmel, Southeast and Patterson in Putnam.

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