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September 23, 2018

Senate Candidates Spar Over STAR


The candidates for State Senate in the 48th District are clashing on the subject of the STAR property tax rebate program.  Republican Dave Renzi accuses incumbent Democratic State Senator Darrel Aubertine of planning to kill the program.  Their dueling press releases are below, Renzi’s first:

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Get Your STAR Rebate Before It’s Gone

Submitted by Dave Renzi

State Senate candidate Dave Renzi today urged Jefferson County homeowners to quickly cash their just-arriving STAR rebate checks — before his opponent succeeds in snatching them away.

STAR rebate checks began arriving in Jefferson County mailboxes this week. Checks will be mailed to Oswego and St. Lawrence County homeowners next week. But Darrel Aubertine wanted to eliminate the checks this year — and was only stopped by the Republican-led Senate’s opposition to his plan.

“This year’s STAR rebate checks may never have arrived, if my opponent had his way. He’s pushing a plan that guts STAR, eliminates the rebate checks, and replace them with a costly and complicated plan that helps fewer homeowners, and actually raises taxes on 800,000 Upstate homeowners,” Renzi said.

Last year, Aubertine voted to downsize the rebate check program, and required homeowners for the first time to fill out an application to qualify. Hundreds of thousands of eligible homeowners failed to file the applications, and never received a check.

The more complicated application system cost taxpayers an additional $7 million to administer. Aubertine’s new scheme would create a new application process, and require Albany bureaucrats to compare income tax returns, home ownership files and other records to determine eligibility.

“Making tax relief more complicated and more costly means fewer taxpayers will benefit,” Renzi said. “My opponent wants to dismantle a rebate program that works, add new layers of complex government bureaucracy, and give less relief to homeowners. That’s a bad deal that could only have been hatched by Albany and downstate insiders.”

Renzi has proposed a plan to strengthen STAR, cap local property tax increases, and reduce taxes by eliminating mandates and increasing state education aid to our schools.

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Now, Aubertine’s:

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Aubertine Touts Comprehensive Property Tax Relief

Submitted article

Today, state Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine applauded the arrival of the STAR rebate checks in Jefferson County – a program he helped create in the Assembly.  But he also reiterated his support for a three-part, comprehensive plan to reduce property taxes.

The Senator’s plan would cap property taxes, end unfunded mandates, and maintain the STAR and Enhanced STAR for seniors program while improving the STAR rebate check program by directing more funds to seniors and working families that need it most.

“My plan is a comprehensive approach that will lead to lower property taxes for everyone in Central and Northern New York,” Darrel said. “I have already voted to cap property taxes and end unfunded mandates, and I have a plan to do this and more.”

The Senator reiterated his support for a bipartisan proposal to improve the check program by creating a STAR Circuit Breaker that will apply to all property taxes, not just school taxes, and direct even more money to struggling families in Northern and Central New York

“We have to improve the STAR rebate check program, so that a family’s ability to pay these oppressive taxes is a factor in who gets the most help,” Darrel said.  “This week, as Jefferson County families began receiving their $250 rebate checks, the state is getting ready to send an $850 check to homeowners in Levittown on Long Island, and $1,450 checks to homeowners in Dobbs Ferry, in Westchester County that are making up to $120,000 a year.  That is not fair and it is not right.  My opponent supports leaving this STAR rebate disparity in place, while I will work to improve the rebate check program to be more fair and equitable to local families.”

Darrel also took time to address the misleading statements that his opponent has been spreading about Darrel’s strong record of working to cap property taxes and reduce the property tax burden on all Central and Northern New York families.

“The fact is I have always supported the STAR program and the Enhanced STAR program,” Darrel said.  “But I know we need the courage to do more.  That is why I voted to cap property taxes, supported an end to unfunded mandates and have proposed a plan to target relief to people across Jefferson, Oswego and St. Lawrence counties who need it most – especially seniors and families with a moderate income.”

Despite his challenger’s claims, the Senator’s plan does not touch the Basic STAR exemption that appears on property tax bills, nor does it touch the Enhanced STAR for seniors. What it does do is improve the STAR rebate check program, which currently costs taxpayers $7 million in administrative costs just to print and send these checks in drastically unequal amounts to everyone across the state. He would improve the STAR program by folding the checks into a targeted STAR Circuit Breaker program that is more efficient and better helps the people who need it most.

“Under the current STAR rebate program, too much taxpayer money is going to wealthy individuals in other parts of the state,” Darrel said. “If we tie the rebate to income, more relief will come to Central and Northern New York.”

The Senator is not alone in his support of a tax cap, mandate relief and the STAR Circuit Breaker.  Both Assemblyman Will Barclay and Assemblywoman DeDe Scozzafava have co-sponsored a Circuit Breaker in the Assembly (A1575).   Darrel believes the three parts of his plan will work together to not only help the neediest families first, but actually reduce property tax bills for everyone.

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And, lastly, a separate statement from Aubertine’s press office:

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Aubertine campaign coordinator Cort Ruddy said: “Mr. Renzi is continuing to lie about Darrel’s plan to cut property taxes.  The plan leaves STAR and Enhanced STAR intact, and it improves on the STAR Rebate program by sending more money to people in Central and Northern New York who need it.  Darrel’s plan will not only cut taxes for everyone, but it end the practice of sending $1000 checks to wealthy downstate homeowners.  Mr. Renzi supports sending most of the money to Westchester and Long Island, and that is not what we need.”

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