Tedisco, Assembly Minority Push To Provide
Local Governments Relief From Unfunded Mandates
Majority of Members from the Assembly Majority Conference vote
against the measure, effectively killing unfunded mandate relief
Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady-Saratoga) and the Assembly Minority Conference today continued their efforts to give local governments the flexibility, autonomy and cost-savings authority they have repeatedly requested from Albany by pushing to ban unfunded state mandates.
Unfunded state mandates - stringent, unilateral requirements imposed by Albany on local governments directing them to do something without providing the necessary funding - are cited by organizations such as the New York State Association of Counties and the Association of Towns of the State of New York as primary drivers of municipal budgets and local property taxes.
One of the leading examples - the "mother" of all unfunded mandates - is New York's Medicaid Program, as counties are forced to pick up many of the program's staggering costs. New York currently spends nearly as much on its Medicaid program as California and Texas combined, with much of this expense incurred by County governments who ultimately are forced to pass the costs onto homeowners in the form of higher property taxes.
"Ask any local elected official and they will tell you - Albany's oppressive, burdensome unfunded mandates are one of the main reasons why local budgets and property taxes continue rising. If Albany is going to tell local governments what to do and how to do it, then it should provide them the means to pay for it. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Our Assembly Minority Conference has heard the pleas of local governments and elected officials who have repeatedly asked for relief from unfunded mandates. It's why our Conference continues leading the fight to ban Albany from issuing unfunded mandates on localities," Tedisco said.
The unfunded mandate relief proposal advanced by Tedisco and his Assembly Minority colleagues - Assembly Bill A.4815, sponsored by Assemblyman Joel Miller (R,I-Poughkeepsie) - requires any state mandate imposed on a locality and costing more than $10,000 annually or $1 million statewide to be funded by the state.
Tedisco and the Assembly Minority members utilized a parliamentary procedure referred to as a "Motion to Discharge" to try and force an up or down floor vote on releasing their initiative from committee. Motions to Discharge are an important legislative tool afforded to Minority Conferences to try to force consideration of their bills by a Majority. A majority of Assembly members voted against the Minoritys' Motion to Discharge, meaning A.4815 will remain held in the Assembly Education Committee.
"One of the many problems with unfunded mandates is that they usually stem from an 'Albany knows best' mentality. But the reality is that Albany doesn't always know best. Common sense and experience tell us that local government is usually the level of government closest to a particular problem, and, as such, the best suited to find a local solution that is usually more cost effective than what Albany would prescribe," Tedisco stated.
"I introduced this bill because it is clear that unfunded mandates are overwhelming our schools and municipalities, adding to the grief faced by local taxpayers. There is no doubt that the imposition of unfunded mandates has crippling effects on local budgets and adds to the already high tax burden placed on all New Yorkers. By advancing this legislation, we could have provided significant relief to the local taxpayers of this state. I am disappointed it was not brought to the floor today for a proper debate and vote, but my colleagues and I in the Minority Conference will not give up the fight to bring about comprehensive property tax reform," said Assemblyman Joel M. Miller, 102nd district.
"I am disappointed that the state Assembly majority today blocked an attempt to eliminate costly unfunded state mandates. Local property taxpayers are suffering under the burden of these unfunded mandates, which have driven the cost of living in Upstate New York to unaffordable levels. I urge the state Assembly to reconsider this vote and take real steps to relieve local property taxpayers of this burden," said Maggie Brooks, Monroe County Executive.
"It's disappointing that the Assembly Majority chose not to protect local property taxpayers. These mandates are unfairly placed on localities. It's time for the Assembly to stop balancing their budget on the backs of property taxpayers. I want to thank Leader Jim Tedisco and the Minority Conference for their leadership on this important issue," Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said.
"In the fall of 2007, I was elected to serve as Saratoga Springs' voice on the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors. Since then, I have seen instance after instance of unfunded state mandates driving up the cost, and interfering with the administration of, local governance. Unfunded state mandates are 'public enemy number one' of local governments seeking to operate in a more efficient, cost effective and problem-solving manner. I applaud Leader Tedisco and the Assembly Minority Conference for bringing some much-needed attention to the need for unfunded mandate relief," said Matthew Veitch (R,C-Saratoga Springs), Saratoga Springs Supervisor and a member of the County's Social Programs Committee.
"Unfunded state mandates are a real problem for municipal budgets and local property taxpayers. Local government budgets are continuously plagued by rising costs and limited revenue-raising opportunities, and state mandates simply push property taxes higher," said Peter Baynes, New York Conference of Mayors Executive Director. "Any initiative that would ensure that newly created state mandates are accompanied by the resources to pay for them, is something the Conference of Mayors strongly supports."
"Costly mandates imposed on school districts by the state are one of the key factors leading to high local property taxes. We strongly support efforts to require full funding of these mandates," said Timothy G. Kremer, Executive Director, New York State School Boards Association.
"Speaking as someone who served in the Schenectady City Council before being elected to the Assembly, I know firsthand how state-imposed unfunded mandates are the budget-busting bane of local governments - and backbreakers for local property taxpayers. In a time of shrinking revenues and an economic recession, when municipalities like the City of Schenectady are being asked to do more with less, it is only fair that we provide them with some measure of relief from Albany's patchwork quilt of unfunded mandates," Tedisco concluded.
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