O'Mara: state should cover cost of mandated pay increase for district attorneys, not counties ~ Introduces legislation to remove unfunded mandate on local taxpayers

April 29, 2016

"The last thing counties can afford is another unfunded state mandate," said O'Mara.

The state has traditionally covered this cost. Now is no time to break with that commitment. We need to get rid of unfunded state mandates, not add to the pile. It’s not fair for local taxpayers to shoulder the burden of another cost increase.

Elmira, N.Y., April 29—State Senator Tom O’Mara (R,C,I-Big Flats) today announced that he has introduced legislation (S7417) to amend the recently enacted 2016-17 state budget to remove an unfunded state mandate requiring counties to cover the cost of a mandated pay increase for local district attorneys.

“The last thing counties can afford is another unfunded state mandate,” said O’Mara.  “The state has traditionally covered this cost and now is no time to break with that commitment.  We need to be getting rid of unfunded state mandates, not adding to the pile.  It’s not fair to make local taxpayers shoulder the burden of yet another cost increase.”

In a recent statement, New York State Association of Counties Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario said, “This is unprecedented. For over 50 years, the state has paid for every DA salary increase mandated on counties. It has always been a fundamental issue of fairness. The state has historically funded these salary increases through the state budget."

Last December, the New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial, and Executive Compensation voted in favor of a recommendation to increase all state judge salaries in 2016 and 2018.  That recommendation was approved as part of the new state budget enacted on April 1.

Current state law links judicial salaries with the salaries of county district attorneys and requires the DA salaries to be equal to or higher than either the County Court Judge or Supreme Court Judge in a county, depending on full- or part-time status.

According to NYSAC, the 2016-17 state budget does not include approximately $1.6 million for counties statewide to fund the DA salary increases. The raise will cost each county approximately $30,000 not allocated from their 2016 county budgets - a cost of approximately one-third of their total allowable property tax cap growth for all government operations in 2016.

NYSAC President William E. Cherry said, "This was an unintended consequence of the demands of meeting an on-time budget, and it can be fixed with a simple chapter amendment that can be passed when lawmakers return in May.”

O’Mara said that he’s introduced legislation requiring the state to cover the costs of the statewide DA salary increases so that it can be voted on as soon as possible after the Legislature resumes its session next week.