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Lawmakers: End Madison Square Garden Tax Break

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Some lawmakers on Tuesday took issue with the city's plan to give Madison Square Garden a $17 million property tax break every year for the past 31 years.

As 1010 WINS' Stan Brooks reported, New York State Assemblyman David Weprin (D-Queens) led a news conference Tuesday denouncing the plan. The lawmakers called the tax break "absolutely absurd corporate welfare."

Lawmakers: End Madison Square Garden Tax Break

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) said it is time to stop the tax break. She said Madison Square Garden does not need the money anymore, and the people of the city do.

"We need the revenue we have lost through granting these tax breaks for health care; for poor people; for all sorts of things," Rosenthal said. "Meanwhile, the rich get richer, and they can get rich on their own."

Weprin is co-sponsoring New York State Assembly Bill A 6597 to end the tax break. He said the property tax exemption was initially designed as a 10-year relief plan, but it has really meant Madison Square garden has gone without paying property taxes since the break was instituted in 1982.

As a result, Weprin said in a news release, New York State has lost nearly $350 million in tax revenue.

Weprin argued that MSG is a $4 billion corporation that owns the stadium, the Knicks, the Rangers, the New York Liberty of the WNBA, and the Connecticut Whale of the AHL, along with Radio City Music Hall, the Beacon Theatre, the Chicago Theatre in Chicago, the Wang Theatre in Boston, and the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. Thus, there is no reason why the company cannot afford to pay its share of property taxes, he argued.

State Sen. James Sanders (D-Queens) is sponsoring the same bill in the Senate.

Back in April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came out against a plan to end the tax break. He said he saw no good reason to do so, and has heard no good argument to eliminate it.

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver also defended the tax break in April, saying its purpose is to encourage development.

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