ALBANY—Leaders of both the State Senate and Assembly just said they will soon introduce a proposal by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo that will give voters the legal authority to introduce referendums to eliminate parts of local governments.
It was the only concrete legislative commitment that came out of an 80-minute meeting of the legislative leaders held to discuss ways to reduce property taxes. If adopted it would allow Cuomo to claim credit, as an attorney general, for an action that stands to appeal strongly to suburban voters.
At the meeting, convened by David Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith said that after months of discussions with Cuomo's staff, "We are prepared to introduce that bill immediately."
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he has been working with Minority Leader Brian Kolb on the issue.
"I spent two of the last five days, actually, in direct negotiations with the attorney general and we are set to introduce legislation that I believe will reduce local property taxes by between five and 22 percent," Silver said. "Reducing those unnecessary layers of government will put money back in property taxpayers' pockets."
Cuomo's proposal was based off of the work of the Lundine Commission, convened by Eliot Spitzer, but he has been publicly out in front on the issue, beating the drum before the State Conservative Party and the Citizens' Budget Commission in Manhattan.
UPDATE: At an event later in the afternoon, Paterson was asked if he was involved in discussions between Cuomo's staffers and legislative leaders.
"We appreciate his input and we're collaborating with the Speaker, the Attorney General, and anyone else who will help us to short circuit any of the replication in government, and there certainly is a lot of it here in New York State," Paterson said. He was pushed if he would support what Silver was talking about.
"I don't know what details the Speaker was talking about," he replied.