Few people are paying attention to the ballot propositions that New Yorkers will be voting on this upcoming election. Here is a rundown of each proposition.
NYS Proposition Number One
Proposition Number One is a statewide ballot question that asks voters to approve taxing themselves to the tune of $4.2 billion for various environmental programs.
This is on top of a multibillion-dollar environmental bond that passed back in the 1990s. It also comes at a time when New York State and its localities are awash with more money than they have ever had on hand due to massive amounts of pandemic-initiated funds flowing from the federal government.
For instance, one of the justifications of the bond is to provide money for new sewers, but Suffolk County has received tens of millions of dollars for this purpose, dating back to Superstorm Sandy.
Nevertheless, the spending on sewers is the most justifiable of the mix within the bond. If it were just for sewers, it could be a reasonable expenditure.
This bond would once again tax New Yorkers for dubious climate measures while there is already a tremendous amount of funding flowing from the so-called Inflation Reduction Act passed in Washington earlier this year. The act will expend enormous sums of money from the almost $400 billion allocated for environmental purposes.
New York has ballooned spending from $170 billion to a colossal $220 billion over the last four years. It’s time to say enough.
East End Transfer Tax
This proposal would force homebuyers to pay a 0.5% transfer tax on property sold in the five East End towns. This may not sound like a lot, but this is on top of the 2% that is already taken from owners for a dedicated environmental fund. The 0.5% going from the buyer to the government is that much less going to the seller (as it will be reflected in the ultimate purchase price).
This is a feel-good proposal that will not accomplish its proposed goal of creating a significant amount of new affordable housing. The inhibiting factor behind the lack of affordable housing is not a lack of funding; it is the zoning practices of the local towns. Where towns or villages allow for cluster zoning with attached multiple units on a dedicated piece of property, the developer is incentivized to construct workforce housing.
No matter how much money is available in the government’s coffers, affordable housing will be impossible if a particular area is one-acre zoning. There are pros and cons to changing those zoning codes, depending on the specifics of each proposed development. But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that that’s the real core issue. This proposal for this new tax is simply taking more money away from buyers and homeowners without solving the problem.