Tuesday, June 27, 2006

We're not alone

We have complained about the proposed tax rebate that the State legislature is offering just in time for election day. Several newspapers agree. Here is the first:
Beware of politicians bearing gifts - especially in election years when one of the parties is really, really worried about losing its majority. The strings wrapped around the goodies can end up strangling you after the votes are counted.
. . .
Property tax relief was the Senate's top priority. But its insistence on the first year's payment appearing in your mailbox just before Election Day is cynical. And giving most homeowners the same amount - a few hundred bucks more or less to millionaire and middle-class alike - is regressive. Why not deliver more to those whose incomes don't come close to keeping up with the paper value of their homes?

Another is here:
. . . these "rebates" are not the result of belt-tightening or hard decision-making. Next year's budget includes a deficit of about $3 billion. In other words, structural budget problems remain in place, pushing off even harder fiscal decisions for later.

"We're giving some money back to the overburdened, overworked, overtaxed taxpayers," our Albany Bureau quoted Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, referring to the just-in-time-for-the-election checks. We would be touched, if we believed the outlays were more for us than for them.

And finally we have this:
But the overriding headline on this session was about the money. And if taxpayers follow that money, they will see some of it come back into their pockets this fall in the form of school property tax rebates. Between $200 and $800. Those are the kinds of checks that cause voters to forgive their legislators' sins and pull the lever for them when Election Day rolls around.

However, those also are checks that draw down the balance of the state's bank account, which could come up short in the future if New York's projected $4 billion surplus dries up as has a past surplus.