AdWatch: Cuomo pitches local property tax cap


Associated Press

Posted on July 27, 2010 at 5:01 PM

TITLE: "Cap New York Property Taxes."

LENGTH: 30 seconds each of versions for upstate, Long Island and Westchester/Rockland markets.

PAID FOR BY: Andrew Cuomo 2010.

AIRING: Cuomo won't say how often or where the ads will be placed or the cost of the campaign or who produced the commercials.

ANALYSIS: Cuomo isn't pictured and doesn't speak in this first in what is promised to be a series of issues ads of his campaign. Ominous piano music is played under black-and-white images of sad-faced New Yorkers that harken to Great Depression-era images. They hold up white cue cards with, presumably, their property tax bills scrawled in thick, black marker. The closing shots are New Yorkers sitting on their roofs with a sign: "Stop taxes from going through the roof."

The ads targets the long-time gripe of New Yorkers who pay some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

The ad repeats "cap tax," but then explains Cuomo proposes not a cap on taxes but a cap on the growth in taxes of 2 percent or inflation, whichever is less. It makes no mention of the exemptions his proposal includes. For example, school taxes under his proposal could only exceed inflation or 2 percent if the school board approves it and at least 60 percent of voters in budget votes approve it. School boards rarely propose tax increases that low and most school budgets pass comfortably in low turnouts in the spring. Other exemptions would be "one-time needs" such as large legal settlements or capital building expenses.

The campaign ad doesn't appear to be a campaign ad at all. There is no mention of Cuomo running for governor. Instead it advises the viewer, "Tell Albany to pass the Cuomo tax cap." That portrays Cuomo as outside Albany seeking reform, even though his tax cap plan is not under consideration and the regular legislative session ended in June.

Viewers are directed to the website, which is a Cuomo campaign site. It calls on viewers to contact their state legislator to say, "I stand with Andrew Cuomo and his call for a New York property tax cap."

Republican candidate Rick Lazio proposes to cap property taxes at 2.5 percent of the assessed value of a home and to prevent property taxes from increasing more than 2.5 percent a year, unless voters override the cap.

Lazio spokesman David James said Cuomo in his term as attorney general "never strolled across the hall to mention his new idea on taxes" to his Democratic allies in Albany, so "how can anyone believe he would consider implementing any measure to reduce taxes now."

Republican Carl Paladino says promising not to raise takes "takes no guts." He proposes to cut all taxes.

SCRIPT EXCERPTS: Announcer: "It's not fair. It must be stopped ... property taxes go up even as home values go down."

KEY IMAGES: In the upstate version that features a farmer on a tractor, one of the tax bills is listed as $3,379, while the Long Island version carries a placard with $11,116 and the Westchester/Rockland version includes a cue card with $11,959.



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