Barclay: Set Localities Free from Unfunded State Mandates

Lawmakers, Local Government Leaders Push for Mandate Relief in Final Days of Session
June 21, 2011
Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I—Pulaski) stands in the back row, center, at a press conference held to urge leaders in Albany to reduce and remove unfunded state mandates.
Assemblyman Will Barclay (R,C,I—Pulaski) and his colleagues met in Albany with local government leaders to push for mandate relief before session comes to an end this year.

“Unfunded mandates just cripple our local governments. The state is notorious for passing laws that cost money that apply to counties, school districts and localities; in turn, our localities end up turning to the taxpayer, once again, to pay for the mandate. Property taxpayers have had enough. As we cap property taxes, let’s also put a stop to unfunded mandates,” said Barclay.

Below are examples of how to provide mandate relief for localities:

  • Allow counties to opt out of providing optional Medicaid services to new enrollees;
  • Freeze the municipal share of local Medicaid costs at the current levels;
  • Require any new state mandate imposed on a locality or a school district and costs more than $10,000 annually to be funded by the state;
  • Require legislative fiscal impact notes be attached to bills prior to passage that include the economic impact on state or local governments;
  • Authorize BOCES and district superintendents to study consolidation and shared services, as well as transportation services contracts;
  • Authorize school districts to provide student transportation based upon patterns of actual ridership; and
  • Require the Commissioner of Education to reduce onerous paperwork requirements and allow electronic submission of reports.

Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, who attended the press conference, stated the following: “As Monroe County Executive, I have made protecting property taxpayers my top priority. We have successfully held the line on property taxes each and every year since 2004, and are one of only four of New York's 62 counties to have not raised its property tax rate during that time. Yet, in spite of these accomplishments, Upstate communities stand as some of the highest-taxed areas in the nation, with property taxes nearly 80 percent above the national average. While a tax cap is a positive first step, Albany must immediately address the root cause of high property taxes in our state--unfunded mandates. Nine state mandates consume an astounding 90 percent of the county property tax levy statewide. I urge State government to reduce the cost of these unsustainable programs to protect taxpayers and free local governments to control their own fiscal destinies. Meaningful relief for property taxpayers will remain a dream until Albany gets serious about mandate reform.”

New York State School Boards Association Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer and New York State Conference of Mayors Executive Director Peter Baynes also were present at the press conference.