The Unfunded Mandate Reform Act
- Unfunded mandates cost New Yorkers $4 billion a year in additional costs to local governments and schools.
- This is a leading contributor to the crushing burden of property taxes that New Yorkers pay.
- The Unfunded Mandate Reform Act (S.4094-2013 – read the full Act here) requires the legislature to take a stand on the issue and repeal some of these mandates.
What are unfunded mandates?
- A major contributor to the budget struggles of our local governments and school districts is the state government’s tendency to dictate which services and programs they need to provide. These municipalities are ordered to do something by the state, and then, in many cases, not given any assistance in paying for them.
What is the impact on taxpayers in Rochester and the Finger Lakes region?
- The only way to meet these obligations is to raise property taxes or cut vital programs. It is estimated that unfunded mandates cost New York State taxpayers $4 billion annually. The property tax cap enacted in 2011 was an incredible step forward, but it has only prevented the existing problem from growing any larger. We need to take serious steps to cut costs.
What is the solution to this problem?
- I have introduced a bill that will attack this problem right at its source and begin to turn around the crushing tax burden forced on residents. My bill, the “Unfunded Mandate Reform Act,” has the strong support of a number of groups, including Unshackle Upstate (see their memo on the Act), the National Federation of Independent Businesses (see their memo), the New York State School Boards Association and the Rochester Business Alliance. In their statement supporting the Act, Unshackle shared their belief that addressing the issue of unfunded mandates is "an essential step towards reviving Upstate New York's economy, and toward creating an environment that enables private sector job creation.”
How does the bill work?
- Each year, the legislature would consider and vote on an unfunded mandate relief plan. This plan would analyze many of the programs and services that the state has required local governments to provide and answer two questions: Do the benefits of this program outweigh its costs, and do we have the ability and desire to pay for it?
- The final plan would be a list of the programs that failed that simple test. It would also explicitly state the potential savings if each mandate were to be eliminated. This bill will impose the one mandate I believe all New Yorkers should support -- a mandate for our state's elected officials to make the tough decisions required to give our state's communities and schools relief from the incredible fiscal stress they are currently experiencing.
Isn’t the legislature just going to ignore this report?
- Critically important to the success of this initiative is that the Legislature will be required to vote within 30 days on whether or not to implement the plan. This will bring a new focus and resolve to the Legislature to combat unfunded mandates. It will require every legislator to take a vote and put their position on the record regarding mandates. Delaying action or avoiding the issue would be impossible.
Tackling mandate relief, over-regulation and red tape is going to be vitally important if we wish to both maintain the basic services that New Yorkers demand and deserve, while relieving the overwhelming tax burden we can no longer afford to pay. As a legislator, I am committed to making those difficult decisions and ensuring that excessive state rules don’t drive our local communities, schools and taxpayers into economic collapse.
If you agree that there is an urgent need for Unfunded Mandate relief for your town, city or school district, please express your support below! (Fill out as much or as little as you like – submitting a blank form will be considered an anonymous vote of support.)