Hold On Folks, We’re Not Quite Done!
Legislative Column from Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush (R,C-Black River)
May 3, 2012
Gov. Andrew Cuomo claims that 90 percent of his agenda is complete and that the remainder of the legislative session will be ‘relatively quiet.’ Hold on a minute. Yes, Gov. Cuomo has accomplished a lot with the help of the legislature, and I’m proud to have been a part of restoring and increasing funds to agricultural and economic growth programs. Nevertheless, there is a gaping hole in the list of accomplishments for the people’s agenda – Albany has dropped the ball on comprehensive unfunded mandate relief. New York has only scratched the surface when it comes to unfunded mandate relief. I am happy to have voted yes on legislation to curb local Medicaid costs and provide some pension reform, but these policies aren’t enough. Politicians in Albany promised taxpayers that they were going to fix the rising property tax problem once and for all by enacting unfunded mandate relief. If you’ll remember, the governor established his Mandate Relief Redesign Team in early 2011 and released a report outlining numerous mandate ‘relief’ items. Unfortunately, the items that the Legislature took up have amounted to little more than administrative changes. We need to address the big ticket items. The New York State Association of Counties and many others have weighed in on the matter and offered cost-saving suggestions that were met with little to no interest. Where is the real effort to protect you, the taxpayer, and give our local governments and schools the tools to truly lower your taxes for good? Gov. Cuomo is right, it’s been relatively quiet, but Albany’s silence on unfunded mandate relief is oddly deafening and truly disappointing. We must provide the real relief that all New Yorkers deserve. Yes, the legislative session has been very successful, but we are not finished, and with one month left to go, we all had better get moving on this. It is our duty to take every moment we have left in this legislative session to tackle the unfunded mandate relief that Albany promised you. Please join my call for action on unfunded mandate relief before the legislative session ends in June. Call me at 493-3909 or e-mail me at email@example.com and lend your support to this important cause.