Who Doesn’t Want Their Taxes Cut?
People are being squeezed out of their homes as property taxes increase, leaving many property rich, but cash poor. With changes in federal tax law, our homes are losing value and as interest rates rise our monthly costs increase. The Federal Reserve plans to raise interest rates 3 or 4 times in 2018, leading to a potentially dramatic rise in mortgage interest rates, making it even more difficult for people on fixed or modest incomes to remain in their homes or buy new ones.
As people look to refinance, the terms get tougher for the middle class, as the debt load on average citizens increases, the stress levels increase as well. This past week I was talking to a local town justice about the types of cases she sees in her court when economic pressures are the greatest. She took a deep breath and said that domestic violence is one thing that goes through the roof, there were others, but that was her first response.
There are ways to control property taxes, but it takes legislative courage to do so. The largest part of our property tax bill goes to education, the largest part of that is healthcare for school workers, in the schools and retired. If we moved our state to Medicare for all, that could lower our property tax bill by 25% or more. There is such a bill, approved by the NYS Assembly three years in a row, sitting in committee in the New York State Senate. I was told by a Republican senate staff member that as long as they control the chamber it will never see the light of day.
Other sources of income that reduce property taxes comes from a strong and vibrant business community. To increase business in our towns, cities and villages we need the infrastructure to support them. That means affordable housing, allowing young families, first responders and teachers to buy or rent homes in the towns where they work. It means we need to cut over crowded roads, reduce the cost of mass transit and ensure that we have clean and available drinking water, electricity and internet connections. Our roadways, local mass transit and mobile phone reach is limited in much of the 40th District. This puts us at a decided disadvantage.
As a region, working together, we can transform this paradigm, we will have to set priorities, compromise and commit ourselves to positive change that will enhance our quality of life. We have to put our citizens first.
Recently a billion-dollar bridge was constructed to replace an older version. The new one will not change traffic patterns, not reduce pollution, will not get cars off the streets. We were told light rail would be too costly to include, yet light rail could have removed thousands of cars from our roadways, increased the use of mass transit, cleaned the air and improved the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of commuters. With thinkers like Elan Musk and others generating ideas and realistic concepts to help consumers, citizens and business, why aren’t they part of the conversation?
The reduction of taxes, the increased efforts needed for infrastructure and the demand for change won’t happen overnight, but the discussions must start now and we, as citizens, must be better informed about what is possible if we want to afford life in our special part of the world.