While a circuit breaker does not reduce spending, it will not lead to higher local budgets as STAR is thought to have done. That's because of the way the circuit breaker benefit is structured and because the credit would cover only 70 percent of the property tax paid above the income percentage.
The beneficiary's 30 percent "co-pay" would ensure continued vigilance against budget creep.
Proponents of the tax cap argue that the cap will limit spending. That may happen, depending largely on local situations. The limit may end up as a help or a hindrance, depending on your point of view and the impact on services you may need or want. But whatever merit one perceives in a cap, it is misleading to portray it as "property tax relief" when it will only increase property taxes.
More and more New Yorkers are expressing concern over the drawbacks and limitations of a cap, especially without mandate relief and a circuit breaker. Albany should broaden the dialogue in the remaining days of the legislative session and enact a more comprehensive solution to the property tax crisis.
John Whiteley, who lives in Ticonderoga, is legislative affairs officer for the New York State Property Tax Reform Coalition.