The state’s Commission on Property Tax Relief says there needs to be a cap on tax rate increases in New York. We agree. But the commission’s idea of a limit is a lot different than ours.

The group, which has been studying the issue for about a year now, says school property taxes should not rise by more than 4 percent in any given year. It says the increase should be either that or 120 percent of the inflation rate.

As far as we’re concerned, that’s no cap at all. It’s just lip service to the idea of cost control for public school systems. If the state is going to try to give property owners true tax relief, let’s do it right. How about a hard cap: No tax increases.

In fact, let us go one better. Freeze rates for one year, then drop them by 1 percent per year.

Both school boards and public employee unions would howl, saying they couldn’t possibly exist under those draconian rules. But along with the tax discipline, the state should also free the schools from costly state mandates, regulations and reporting requirements. It would allow them to get away from pushing papers between the districts and Albany and free them to do what they are supposed to be doing: Educating children. And they could do it at a lower cost to the taxpayer.

Of course, in the Albany popularity contest, the taxpayer usually finishes way down the list, behind the unions and the other special interests that donate time and money to the politicians’ re-election campaigns. And in this particularly difficult budget year, the Legislature will want to make sure it has the wiggle room to shift more of the tax burden onto localities instead of tightening things down.

The concept of limiting property taxes? Great. The execution of the plan? Not so good.

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