NYSUT Files Lawsuit Over Property-Tax Cap

10:13 AM, Feb 20, 2013   |    comments
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By Joseph Spector, Gannett Albany

New York State United Teachers, the state's largest teacher's union, said it is filing a lawsuit against the property-tax cap signed into law in 2011.

The tax cap has been a hallmark of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's tenure, and it limits the growth in property taxes to 2 percent a year.

But the teacher's union has railed against the cap since it took effect in 2012, saying it creates inequities in schools districts because wealthy schools would be more likely to override the cap. It takes 60 percent of the school budget vote in May to override the cap.

The lawsuit is expected to be filed today in state Supreme Court in Albany.

"We believe very strongly in the principle that every student, no matter where they live or go to school, should have the opportunity to receive a quality public education," said NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi in a statement. "In challenging the constitutionality of the tax cap, we are fighting for that principle, just as we are fighting for the democratic principles of 'one person, one vote' and for the right of citizens, through local control of their schools, to determine for themselves how much they want to spend on their own community's schools."

The union said it is contending that the tax cap is unconstitutional because it arbitrarily caps property tax levy increases. The cap is based on the rate of inflation each year. This year it's 2 percent.

The lawsuit is also expected to challenge the "one person, one vote" principle, arguing that the 60 percent supermajority required to override the tax cap is unconstitutional.

Cuomo has hailed the cap as limiting taxes in a state with among the highest property taxes in the nation. Almost all districts stayed within the property-tax cap last year

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