HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York state is number one in something that affects everyone who owns property –and it is a distinction that Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to lose.

As CBS2’s Lou Young reported, Cuomo on Wednesday announced a program he said will begin to bring down the highest property taxes in the country.

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Cuomo made the announcement Wednesday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, Long Island. He said his proposed property tax credit would apply to homeowners whose property tax burden exceeds 6 percent of their income.

They also must have annual adjusted household incomes below $250,000.

Renters are also included and will get a check from the state — if they earn $150,000, and if the portion of their rent dedicated to taxes exceeds 6 percent of their household income.

“The less you make, the more of a subsidy,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo called New York’s high property taxes “burdensome” and blamed them for the flight of young people and businesses from the state.

“You can’t just keep raising costs. You can’t just keep going to the taxpayer like a piggy bank, ‘you have to pay more, you have to pay more, you have to pay more,'” Cuomo said. “You have no long-term future if you are the tax capital of the nation — period.”

Laura Murphy of Pleasantville, Westchester County, said she could use a break.

“I’ll take what I can get,” she said.

Currently, Murphy spends $14,000 a year on property taxes, Young reported. She said Cuomo’s plan would not make a big difference in her life.

Cuomo’s office estimated that in Nassau County, the average refund would amount to just over $1,200. The figure would be slightly less in Suffolk County and in northern suburbs including Westchester.

“It will affect millions of people across the state,” Cuomo said. “It will affect 1.3 million people on Long Island, and we’re talking about a significant difference for many homeowners — in the thousands of dollars of difference.”

After watching the speech with CBS2, property tax expert Dave Ruzow said Cuomo’s plan was a positive step.

“I think it gives relief to some homeowners who are on the verge of having to sell their house because $1,200, or approximately $1,200, is a fair amount of money to help relieve the tax burden,” said Ruzow, of Granite Property Reduction. “It helps, but you still have a tremendous tax burden.”

Even by suburban New York standards, property taxes in Westchester County are legendary. People told CBS2 they are paying $14,000, $18,000, or $25,000 a year and up.

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So when asked about what the governor announced, they were happy — sort of.

“With what I’m paying, it’s a drop in the bucket, but it’ll help,” said David Bower of Armonk. “Anything will help right now.”

“Seems that taxes go up a little bit every year, but if I get a check back, a little bit, it’ll help,” said Debbie Jordan of Pleasantville. But she wouldn’t quite say she was happy about the Cuomo plan.

But people remember the days when property taxes went up like clockwork — 6 percent, 9 percent, year after year. This new planned program only applies to localities that stay within the governor’s tax cap of less than 2 percent a year.

Cuomo said addressing property tax concerns will be the highest priority as he begins his second term as governor. He said when fully phased-in over four years, more than 1.3 million taxpayers would receive an average credit of $950.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone cheered the governor’s proposal, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.

“That is a huge break for homeowners,” he said.

Cuomo expects some push back on his plan from some in local government, but said they need to change their ways, WCBS 880’s Mike Xirinachs reported.

The new proposal follows tax-cut initiatives in his first term. He imposed a 2 percent cap on what local governments could levy in 2011.

NYGOP spokesman David Laska released a statement following the governor’s announcement.

He agreed that New York’s property taxes are “the worst in the nation” but said “giving a limited government handout to just a few hardworking taxpayers while ignoring the big picture – mandate relief – is putting a band-aid on a bullet hole.”

Some critics said if the $1.7 billion rebate program is funded by other taxes, it is not really a cut at all, but a shuffle.

Cuomo said the rebate program will be phased in over four years. He plans to officially present it to the state Legislature at the State of the State Speech next week.

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