In the last days of the 2019 legislative session, the New York State Senate passed bill S1687, sponsored by Senator John Brooks, that establishes the residential real property tax relief for public education task force to analyze the current funding system for primary and secondary education and make recommendations on implementing a new system that is state-funded through personal income taxes.
“It is crucial that we come up with a better way to fund public education than our current system of over-reliance on property taxes,” said Brooks, who represents parts of Massapequa. “By establishing this task force we are taking a great step forward in relieving the overwhelming tax burden faced by so many New Yorkers while continuing to better fund our public schools.”
According to Brooks, the current primary and secondary education funding system, which is based largely upon real property taxation, is antiquated and creates serious disparities in educational opportunity and inequities with regard to distribution of the system’s financial burden. The quality of education that children receive varies widely by geographic region, as does the opportunity for children to participate in extracurricular activities.
In addition, taxpayers throughout the state 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. In Brooks’ eyes, this creates serious regional distortions in the relative cost of living.
Brooks says the legislature is compelled to order that a task force be created to conduct a comprehensive examination of the current funding system, and to make recommendations for a long-term, statewide solution that will shift the base resource of primary and secondary education funding from local property taxes to the state general fund. The panel is tasked to find something flexible enough to ensure efficient responsiveness to factors affecting changes in school aid from the State of New York, including but not limited to changing demographics, technology advancements and requirements, school safety and security, mandated educational programs, staff development, programs regarding drugs, bullying, social media, gang violence and other similar programs that emerge in response to changing federal policies that directly impact New Yorkers.