We continue to talk about it.  Other business groups continue to talk about it.  Even certain members of the legislature talk about it.  We think Minority Leader Brian Kolb sums things up pretty nicely.

Legislative Column from Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,C,I-Canandaigua)

I have spoken many times about the issue of unfunded mandates, but the facts are still startling. NYSAC has identified nine state mandates that consume 90 percent of all county property taxes levied across the state (outside of New York City), representing a whopping $4 billion in county property taxes. According to NYSAC, these mandates can consume more than 80 percent of a county’s total budget, which leaves precious few dollars for funding local programs and services.

UNFUNDED MANDATES ARE HANDCUFFING LOCAL LEADERS’ ABILITY TO PROVIDE MUCH-NEEDED PROGRAMS AND SERVICES FOR OUR COMMUNITIES

Many of our brave men and women in law enforcement carry handcuffs with them every day. These metal rings are a valuable tool for protecting the public from people who may pose a danger to themselves and others. In the right hands, handcuffs represent a valuable service – improving the safety of our communities.

Albany has the power to create a program or service and order county governments or school districts to foot the bill for its implementation. Shouldn’t the tax dollars we pay to our county governments and school districts fund homegrown programs and services for the people in our communities? Sadly, the truth is, almost 90 cents out of every dollar in taxes that local homeowners pay in county property taxes go straight toward making sure that the county is meeting Albany’s demands. Clearly, these unfunded mandates are ‘handcuffing’ the creativity, talent and common sense of our county leaders by ‘locking up’ almost 90 percent of their annual tax levees.

WHO SHOULD BE DECIDING HOW TO SPEND TAX DOLLARS IN YOUR COMMUNITY – LOCAL LEADERS OR ALBANY POLITICIANS?

The good news is that there is still time in the 2013 Legislative Session to take a huge step toward protecting taxpayers and localities by stopping Albany’s unfunded mandates and putting our trust back in our community government and school district leaders. I have introduced two bills designed to protect our school districts and local governments from unfunded state mandates:

  • “Taxpayer Protection and Mandate Relief Act” (A.6546, Kolb) prohibits any new unfunded mandates; freezes county Medicaid costs at their current level; allows counties to opt out of optional Medicaid services; caps state spending; and
  • “New York State Mandate Relief for School Districts Act”(A.4972, Kolb) provides comprehensive mandate relief for school districts; ensures the retention of quality teachers; disciplines tenured teachers; reviews special education requirements.

Unless Albany does something to address these county and school district budget-busters, state government will continue its status quo, one-size-fits-all governing – passing new laws, designing new programs and handing the tab over to local taxpayers. Enacting these measures will give our local leaders the funds they need to implement locally designed programs for their hometown communities and put the taxpayers back in control.