Our public services have always been a constant in our lives; however, unless we enact immediate meaningful mandate relief, the privatization and loss of our quality services will become a harsh reality. Already, discretionary services are being cut, especially harming our elderly and our most vulnerable.
These cuts in discretionary services are a result of our municipalities’ struggle to manage costs while also continuing to provide necessary services to our communities.
“Tough decisions are looming on which local services to fund/subsidize and which ones to cut,” said Queensbury At-Large Supervisor Mark Westcott. “The current trends in the growth of unfunded mandates, pensions and medical insurance along with the 2 percent property tax cap puts the county in the position of having no choice but to make budget cuts and to cut services.”
Several weeks ago, Governor Cuomo said that our work here in Albany for the 2012 Legislative Session was done, and there was little left to be accomplished before we departed for the summer.
While we have accomplished much this year, our work is far from over. Our schools and municipalities continue to suffer from crippling unfunded mandates, and effective relief has yet to be achieved, or even addressed, in a legitimate manner.
Saratoga County Chairman Thomas N. Wood III agrees. “Significant cuts to public services will need to be made soon absent immediate action on mandate relief. The passage of the 2 percent property tax cap without accomplishing unfunded mandate relief has forced many local governments to make unnecessary sacrifices,” he said.
I am calling on our Governor and my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate to come together and support mandate relief measures in our few remaining Session days. The Assembly Minority Conference has introduced over 30 bills aimed at reducing the burden felt by so many of our municipalities, and I am hopeful that some of them are brought to a vote to provide much-needed relief.
Immediate action is necessary to prevent further reductions in vital services that will harm everyone, including our students, elderly, and other vulnerable residents. Anyone with further questions or concerns, please contact me at my Fort Edward office, 518-747-7098, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.