The Brooks Plan:
Reducing Property Taxes For Overburdened Homeowners
"Brooks' initiative is too consequential to ignore"
- Martin Cantor, Director of the Long Island Center for Socio-Economic Policy and a former Suffolk County Economic Development Commissioner
Senate Bill 1388B is a critical part of the solution to reducing the high property taxes crippling Long Island homeowners. My plan achieves real property tax reductions of up to 20-to-30% for overburdened homeowners, thereby creating over $1 Billion in savings across New York State.
Why fix a crack in the foundation of your house when you can simply paint over it? When spoken out loud, this question sounds silly, even dangerous. Yet it is exactly this kind of empty logic that so many in our state government seem to be channeling when it comes to one of the biggest flaws in our collective foundation. This flaw impacts how we live, where we live, diversity in our populations, and equity in our schools. This flaw keeps the elderly financially buried in their homes, allows for the continued segregation of ethnic and racial populations, and makes it near impossible for our youth to afford an ownership stake in the neighborhoods that raised them. You hear again and again from young professionals, working-class families, multicultural communities, and more – “I love New York but I just can’t afford to live here!”
Homeowners in New York State suffer from some of the highest property taxes in the nation, and year after year, we fail to examine the underlying cause of these exorbitant tax levels and come up with a long-term solution that would truly fix the problem.
The core issue is that taxpayers receive real property tax bills from their local school districts based on the value of their homes, which is subject to multiple factors beyond their control rather than their financial ability to pay. This creates serious regional distortions in the relative costs of living and contributes to the significant disparities in educational opportunity and inequities for our schoolchildren. It forces seniors who can do nothing but watch as their modest homes skyrocket in “value”, yet live on a humble fixed income, to pay untenable and downright oppressive levels of property taxes.
My bill S.1388B offers a real solution to the problem by offering overburdened homeowner's real property tax reductions of 20-to-30 percent. We accomplish this by substituting a large portion of the tax levy for school district funding with funding that was previously allocated to ineffective scattershot one-time tax relief programs. By permanently concentrating these savings on homeowners in school districts that have low commercial revenue and household income levels, we can achieve significant savings for those who need it instead of sending insignificant amounts in a confusing manner to everyone, regardless of their financial situation or taxes. The bottom line is that this plan would lower the taxes that overburdened homeowners are required to pay each year without affecting existing levels of public school funding or raising taxes.
School districts have three revenue streams, state aid, commercial property taxes, and residential property taxes. As an example of the problem we typically see, many homeowners live in school districts that lack an equitable partnership between state aid and commercial property, resulting in the homeowners shouldering 70% of the tax burden. When two of the revenue streams share only 30% of the responsibility, homeowners suffer and housing becomes unaffordable. Sadly this story is shared all across the state. Homeowners in school districts across Long Island and the state suffer from this problem because our current system does not take into account the level of responsibility each partner shares in funding our schools.
By adopting my plan, we would ensure no homeowner in NYS is asked to pay more than 50% of the total cost of education. Additionally, and equally as important, no school district would lose a dime in funding because the state’s share of funding would be increased to cover the cost of the reduced property tax levy on homeowners with no increase in income taxes.
According to Martin R. Cantor; Director of the Long Island Center for Socio-Economic Policy
and a former Suffolk County Economic Development Commissioner:
What does The Brooks Plan do?
This plan is our chance to fix a property tax system that is broken for so many New York homeowners.
How is the system broken?
The current property tax system is broken for hundreds of thousands of homeowners all across the state because they are forced to pay more than their fair share in property taxes. Homeowners in districts that see limited state aid while at the same time having small commercial property tax bases become overburdened by the lack of partnership in funding their schools.
How does this plan fix that problem?
High property taxes result in unaffordable homeownership and contribute to the housing crisis. If enacted, the provisions of my plan would impact homeowners all across the state with many seeing their taxes reduced by 20-30%. This would be accomplished by simply balancing the sources by which school districts are funded through a cap on a homeowner's property tax responsibility.
How do we pay for this?
The state has money allocated to ineffective and inequitable scattershot tax relief programs. Directing that funding to the homeowners most affected by this problem is well within current state resources.
School districts are funded in three ways: state aid, commercial property, and homeowners. When homeowners are paying more than 50% that means these other partners are not contributing their fair share. This plan will reduce the levy on homeowners and supplement that reduction with additional state aid. Many homeowners will see their taxes reduced by 20-30%.
According to The Newsday Editorial Board: