Assemblyman Michael Fitzpatrick (R,C,I-Smithtown) was appointed by Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C-Canandaigua) to the General Government and Local Assistance Joint Budget Conference Committee, which is part of the New York State Budget negotiation process. At the meeting he emphasized the need for unfunded mandate relief for local governments, which has been the primary cause of high property taxes in the state.
“Our local governments and, in turn, Long Islanders, have been struggling and are paying for expensive unfunded state mandates they do not need nor want,” said Fitzpatrick. “Passing the budget is one of the most important actions the Legislature takes, and a budget without meaningful mandate relief fails the people. In my opinion, the proposals from the governor and legislative majorities contain no mandate reductions for our local governments and school districts. Mandate relief is needed now.”
According to the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC), just nine state unfunded mandates consume nearly 99 percent of local property taxes. These mandates cost New Yorkers more than $12 billion annually. With so much of the local tax levy already accounted for, it is increasingly more difficult for municipalities to make ends meet and continue to provide services that taxpayers need and deserve.
Fitzpatrick has been advocating for mandate relief and sponsors Assembly Bill 2701, which addresses the most pressing mandates faced by local governments. The legislation would cap binding arbitration awards at 2 percent, and require newly-hired employees to participate in the same defined contribution retirement plan used by teaching staff at the State University of New York (SUNY). Additionally, the measure makes one small modification to the Triborough Amendment of the Taylor Law, which governs public employees. The bill would suspend automatic pay increases, known as step increases, when a collective bargaining contract expires. Finally, his legislation places a moratorium on any new unfunded state mandates.