Daily Archives: April 10, 2012

Budget includes rule that will deny STAR benefits

Under new rules passed Friday, March 30, as part of the state’s 2012-13 budget, residents behind on their state income taxes will lose their STAR exemptions, which provide relief from school taxes.

The $132.5 billion state budget includes a provision that will deny STAR benefits to owners who have outstanding state debt of $4,500 or more, said Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning.

The law is designed to motivate residents who owe the state money to pay up.

But given the endless complaints many have over their rising school taxes and the popularity of the STAR break, the new rules may stir emotions.

“I think it’s one of those pieces in the budget, that if it wasn’t in there I wouldn’t mind,” Palmesano said. “It’s not a major revenue pick-up. But it’s there and that’s what it is. I don’t think it was an important part of the budget.”

The STAR exemption, also known as the School Tax Relief Program, exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes. For senior citizens, the first $62,200 is exempt, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance. The discount can range from several hundred dollars to more than $1,000.

The logic behind withholding the STAR exemption is based on the idea that the exemption in local school taxes comes from the state. So if someone owes the state money, they should not benefit from a state-funded exemption.

Geoffrey Gloak, a spokesman for the state Department of Taxation and Finance, said STAR is the only property tax exemption that is reimbursed by the state.

Also, local assessors will have to remove homeowners from the STAR list if they owe money to the state, placing an additional burden on their office, according to several local assessors.

Under new rules passed Friday, March 30, as part of the state’s 2012-13 budget, residents behind on their state income taxes will lose their STAR exemptions, which provide relief from school taxes.

The $132.5 billion state budget includes a provision that will deny
STAR benefits to owners who have outstanding state debt of $4,500 or more, said Assemblyman Phil Palmesano, R-Corning.

The law is designed to motivate residents who owe the state money to pay up.

But given the endless complaints many have over their rising school taxes and the popularity of the STAR break, the new rules may stir emotions.

“I think it’s one of those pieces in the budget, that if it wasn’t in there I wouldn’t mind,” Palmesano said. “It’s not a major revenue pick-up. But it’s there and that’s what it is. I don’t think it was an important part of the budget.”

The STAR exemption, also known as the School Tax Relief Program, exempts the first $30,000 of the full value of a home from school taxes. For senior citizens, the first $62,200 is exempt, according to the state Department of Taxation and Finance. The discount can range from several hundred dollars to more than $1,000.

The logic behind withholding the STAR exemption is based on the idea that the exemption in local school taxes comes from the state. So if someone owes the state money, they should not benefit from a state-funded exemption.

Geoffrey Gloak, a spokesman for the state Department of Taxation and Finance, said STAR is the only property tax exemption that is reimbursed by the state.

Also, local assessors will have to remove homeowners from the STAR list if they owe money to the state, placing an additional burden on their office, according to several local assessors.

Source

Democrats upset over NY’s new districts

As the year moves toward a new, untested political calendar, national Democrats are grumbling over the final result of New York’s redistricting process.

After the Republican-led Senate and Democratic-controlled Assembly failed to come to an agreement to redraw seats for the House of Representatives, the process was thrown to a special master, Magistrate Roann Mann. She drew lines largely praised by good-government groups, but potentially hurt freshman Congresswoman Kathy Hochul and longtime incumbent Louise Slaughter. It’s a potential stumbling block for Governor Andrew Cuomo who observers believe is in line to run for president four years from now. But while Cuomo in Utica acknowledged the criticism, he also shrugged it off.

“You know, when you draw a line in the sand, some people are on one side or the other. We just went through a process called redistricting where they drew a lot of lines on a map. Some people are happy, some people are unhappy. That’s what happens when you draw lines. But the law says you have to draw lines,” Cuomo said.

“But what about those in your own party?” our reporter asked.

“Some people in my party are unhappy, some people are in my party. Some people in the other party are unhappy, some people in the other party are happy. It means it probably worked out fine,” Cuomo replied.

Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were upset that New York allowed vulnerable incumbents, especially women, to face tougher challenges in 2012. National Republicans, meanwhile, hope they can hold on to their gains made in 2010 and even expand by four seats.

Source

Assembly’s Majority Leader To Retire

Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari, D-Cohoes, Albany County, announced on Tuesday his plans to retire at year’s end, ending a 37-year political career and leaving a void for one of the top positions of the Legislature.

Canestrari, 68, who has served as majority leader for the past five years and in the Assembly for 24 years, said he thought it was time to “turn the page begin a new chapter in my life,” Gannett’s Aaron Scholder reports

“It was a very difficult decision. This place can be addictive,” he said.

Canestrari, whose district covers parts of Saratoga, Albany and Rensselear counties, said he would not get involved in deciding who would replace him in both his district and as majority leader.

There are several names being floated, including Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County; Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples, D-Buffalo; and Assemblyman Robin Schiminger, D-Kenmore, Erie County.

“There are a number of people I’m sure who are interested and can do the job very, very well. The institution will survive and things will go well,” Canestrari said.

Canestrari, who previously served as mayor of Cohoes for 13 years, serves as the chair of the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee as well as previously serving as chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education, where he said he believes his greatest accomplishments were.

Canestrari said there was no main deciding factor as to why he was retiring, however he did say he plans to travel more once he leaves office.

“I’ve postponed a couple of trips because of special sessions or other activities, and I don’t feel any longer that I want to postpone things,” he said.

He’s the latest Assembly member from the Albany area. Democratic Assemblymen Jack McEneny and Bob Reilly are retiring.

Source

Golisano For President Closer To Reality?

Former Independence Party member and Staten Island gadfly Frank Morano claims he has made some headway in his long-shot campaign to draft retired Paychex CEO and ex-New York resident Tom Golisano to run for president as a (small i) independent.

Morano, who first started pitching on Golisano’s behalf in February, sent out the email that appears here last week.

Oddly, it forwarded to me by GOP consultant Roger Stone, who has a Golisano connection – he worked on the billionaire’s third and final gubernatorial bid in 2002 – but is backing his own independent White House contender, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Morano followed that up with another email this past weekend that touted the efforts of Americans Elect – the organization that is petitioning to secure ballot access in as many states as possible for a yet-to-be-named independent presidential candidate who will be chosen in an on-line caucus process.

Read the entire article

Cuomo announces grant program for school districts that cut bureaucracy

School districts have until June 6 to apply for the first round of grants for long-term efficiency or cost-savings measures in management and operations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today.

The School District Management Efficiency Awards program is one of two new competitive-grant initiatives spearheaded by the governor. The state Education Department, which is administering the program, will distribute a total of $75 million in the next three years.

The other program will give out grants for schools that improve student achievement. The Education Department received about 70 applications by the deadline in February. The awards will range from from a maximum of $100,000 a year in districts with fewer than 750 students to as much as $10 million a year for New York City.

Cuomo said New York needs to invest less in bureaucracy and more in students to become a national leader. All other education aid is given out based on formulas.

“This competitive award program will reward school districts that reduce waste and cut through the bureaucracy to provide better education services to our students,” he said in a statement. “This program, along with the ongoing performance grants, will make our education system prioritize delivering better results and raising student achievement to give all our students a better education.”

The first round of awards will be announced and awarded during the 2012-13 school year for districts that have most effectively cut unnecessary bureaucratic costs while maintaining the integrity of programs and services for students and teachers, Cuomo said. Examples include reducing the cost of transportation and other administrative overhead. Districts will have to show they are consulting parents, teachers and others in cost-cutting efforts.

School districts will earn bonus points if they have a teacher-evaluation system approved by the state Education Department and in place by Sept. 1. They are required to put a new evaluation system in place factors in student growth on standardized tests and includes other changes. Applicants that show implementation of long-term efficiencies that can be implemented in other districts will receive priority consideration.

Source