Updated (new Petitions, new Sites); the Growing Coalition and Call for Substantial Mandate Relief, and other news.


 » Did You Know…

New York’s State mandates take your tax dollars out of your local community and limit the ability to provide local services.

90 cents of every county property tax dollar goes to Albany to fund State mandates.

Local taxpayers send $7.3 billion, in weekly installments, to help fund the State’s Medicaid program.

In 2012, counties and the City of New York will send more than $11.5 billion in local revenue to subsidize the State Treasury.

In order to pay for State programs, counties across the State are reducing or eliminating long term care services for seniors (including nursing homes), community health care centers, Meals on Wheels, local law enforcement activities, veterans services programs, and many other community-based services and programs.

Your State Legislators can enact mandate relief to help stabilize property tax dollars and keep more of your hard-earned money in your community for local purposes.

->Contact Your State Representatives: It’s as Easy as 1, 2, 3

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NY’ers for Local control of Local government

Yet another call to action, with additional initiatives

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Rensselaer County Legislative majority proposes different approach to mandate relief

February 11, 2012 By Katie Nowak Roberts The Record

TROY — Members of the Rensselaer County Legislature majority will file a resolution during the body’s next meeting asking the state to consider giving counties the choice to opt out of certain mandated services that are not federally required.
The push is an effort for the county to control its costs and potentially lower its tax rate, Republican legislators said. Majority Leader Ken Herrington noted that giving counties more control over what optional services they provide is a more feasible request than hoping the state “provides tens of millions of dollars to counties for mandate relief.”
Currently, the federal government requires states to provide some mandated social services, while also giving states a list of optional services they may also elect to provide. New York state has chosen to provide both federally required and optional services, and legislators said it is the only state that requires counties to pay for a portion of the costs of all of them.
Republicans are asking for a so-called “reverse-mandate” where they would be allowed to opt out of some of those  optional services, adding that the state could in exchange require Rensselaer County to apply some of the savings that move generates to tax relief.
Rich Crist, a spokesman for the majority, said that most of these cuts would focus on Medicaid, which he called “the largest and costliest unfunded mandate in the county,” ringing in at about $40 million in annual costs, and contributing to what he called the state’s “Cadillac level of care.” While programs would not necessarily have to be cut completely, Crist said legislators would like the opportunity to “have greater control over how these services are provided and an opportunity to reduce costs while still providing a basic and needed level of care.”


Guest essay: State must offer mandate relief to municipalities (Promotes new initiative – EnoughMandates.Com)

By Mark Westcott The Post-Star | Posted: Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mark Westcott is on the Warren County Board of Supervisors. He lives in Queensbury.

The single most important issue facing local government is the issue of state mandates. If local governments hold the line on tax increases, the impact of unfunded or underfunded state mandates on local community services will be severe if there is not mandate relief from the state. Based on current trends, local governments across the state are facing major, negative cuts to community services such as road repair and maintenance (including snowplowing), sheriff patrol, nursing and adult homes, Office of the Aging, libraries and other services deemed to be important by local citizens. This is no exaggeration.

What is an unfunded mandate? An unfunded mandate is when a higher branch of government passes a law, statute or regulation requiring a lower branch of government to perform certain actions, but provides no, or only partial, funding for fulfilling the requirements. In the case of state mandates, local governments like the county, city and towns must find their own funding source in order to fulfill the requirements, i.e. raise property taxes. This is why state mandates are the hidden property tax.

Are unfunded mandates bad? I am not passing judgment on any particular mandate, but the unfunded or underfunded mandates that have accumulated over the decades are not affordable now. The situation is different today. In addition to unfunded mandates, New York continues to reduce the amount of partial reimbursements for mandated services. In New York, the passing of the 2 percent property tax cap was historic legislation, but it addressed only half the equation. Local governments cannot control the growing burden of unfunded mandates. The result will be a variety of responses. Some local governments will pass budgets that include property tax increases above 2 percent. Others will find new taxes and fees to compensate. Some will cut essential services. As time goes on, the trend points to a scenario that if local governments hold the line on tax increases, local community spending will be choked out because of the growth of unfunded mandates. This unintended consequence will not be a good thing for local communities. There needs to be mandate reform.

What is an example of an unfunded mandate? The largest unfunded mandate local governments must pay is for Medicaid. New York places a much higher financial burden for Medicaid on local governments than any other state. In New York, the local share of Medicaid payments is 16 percent of total Medicaid spending; compared to the next highest state California at 2.5 percent (Source: Citizens Budget Commission). In 2012, the Governor’s office estimates the local government share for Medicaid will be $8 billion. This is paid for by property taxes. Now you know why New York has the highest property taxes in the country. New York has been the highest overall taxed state 26 out of the past 30 years. When you look at counties across the U.S., New York has nine out of the top 10 highest county property taxes. (Source:www.taxfoundation.org). Most everyone agrees we can’t take more taxation.

What would you say if 100 percent of your property taxes went to Medicaid? In Warren County your 2011 property taxes paid for more than $13 million of Medicaid payments or 33 percent of your property taxes. Consider yourself lucky. At a recent conference with other counties, I met two county officials who said 85 percent and 100 percent respectively of their county property taxes go to mandated Medicaid payments. That’s right: 85 percent and 100 percent of their county property taxes go to Medicaid! How could this be? The state policy that mandates local Medicaid payments to counties is inequitable. Poor counties and taxpayers pay disproportionately a higher amount for Medicaid than affluent counties. This is not right and it is not how the state pays for other services like the state university and prison systems, i.e. people do not pay taxes based on the number of students from their county who go to state universities or the number of people in prison who are from their county. This should not be the case for Medicaid.

Three points to make while having this discussion:

First, this is not an indictment of Medicaid. Medicaid is an important program and needs to be preserved, but in order to maintain it for future generations, the program needs to be reformed, and paying for it by bankrupting local counties is not responsible. The fact is the program as currently designed is not sustainable. As they say, you can fix it now, or fix it later at even greater cost and pain.

Second, counties and local governments cannot shirk their own fiscal responsibility while working toward state mandate relief. Each level of government is responsible for finding efficiencies and savings in their budgets. We on the local level need to continue working toward finding better, smarter ways to run local government.

Third, just shifting the mandate burden back to the state, while providing relief on the local level, would likely result in increased state income or sales taxes. A “tax shift” from local government to the state with no net tax benefit to people is not helpful. There needs to be meaningful reform of mandated programs so that savings result versus just shifting the tax burden.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has presented as part of his 2012 budget a proposal to reduce the annual growth of the county share in Medicaid expenses and for pension reform. This is an important first step to the mandate relief effort and I urge people to support the governor in his efforts. To further study the issue, Gov. Cuomo has assembled a Mandate Relief Council. “For too many years local governments and school districts have been burdened with growing costs, driving up property taxes and cutting into the delivery of vital services,” Gov. Cuomo said. “My budget already includes billions of dollars of relief to help lower costs for taxpayers and this council will continue to build on that effort to ensure more savings for New Yorkers.” State Sen. Elizabeth Little is a member and we have met to discuss mandate relief. She has been very helpful in generating ideas on how to address the growing problem of unfunded mandates. Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward has also expressed her support for mandate relief.

Locally, a group of citizens, businesspeople and elected officials including Tom Hoy, Omar Usmani, Frank O’Keefe, Fred Monroe and other community leaders have been meeting to discuss the issue of unfunded mandates. This nonpartisan group agreed it was important to educate, inform and get people involved in the discussion.

The result is an initiative called http://www.enoughmandates.com/ On this site are facts, research, information and links to other sites that provide information on mandates. We are coordinating efforts with other counties across the state to call on members of the state legislature to support mandate relief. You can help by contacting your state legislator to let them know how you feel about unfunded mandates.

There is one thing that just about everyone agrees on: Mandate relief is essential or local community services will have to be cut and/or local governments will have to raise taxes above the 2 percent property tax cap. It is time for the state legislature to take meaningful action on mandate relief.

Genesee Co Legislature asks for community support on Medicaid petition drive

Howard Owens February 3, 2012 – Press release from the Genesee County Legislature:

Importance of Medicaid Petition Drive. Why should Geneseeans Care?

$9.2 million six years ago was the amount Genesee County was spending for Medicaid. 50% of the total program cost is the responsibility of the taxpayer in New York State which is the same in most of the other 49 States. New York State has the 57 New York counties paying a share of this Medicaid Bill each week which in 2012 equals about 18.5% of that 50% state share.

Six years later, $9.8 million is the dollar amount representing 18.5 cents of every dollar spent for Medicaid that Genesee County taxpayers must fund in the 2012 budget year.

Approximately 7,200 individuals are enrolled in Medicaid in Genesee County. In 2014, the Federal Health Statute (Affordable Care Act) is mandating states to select a health care program for those particular state residents in need of health coverage and eligible to enroll. In New York state the choice has been made, Medicaid will be the primary payor.

Current estimates that there are 5,000 additional county residents eligible for this proposed/expanded Medicaid program. This means an additional 69% increase in Medicaid funding, or in 2012 dollars would mean $6.30 per thousand just to pay the county’s 18.5% of this unfunded mandate.

This is a call to be answered by Genesee County and all New York State residents that have concern to be proactive with their county’s Medicaid petition drive. Blank petitions are available at your town and village offices and once you have obtained signatures return to your town or village hall or local library. Petitions may also be sent to county residents electronically by contacting the Clerk of the Genesee County Legislature, Carolyn Pratt, 344-2550, ext. 2202, cpratt@co.genesee.ny.us


We need as many signatures as possible on a petition to transfer the cost of Medicaid from the counties to the State, who buries us under impossible mandates, ASAP.  Please print up hard copies and take them to work, or do as Ellie did and get 50 signatures by standing in the Boulevard Mall!  You can find it here.
Please gather as many as you can, from anywhere in the State, and mail them to TNY, Box 204, Grand Island NY 14072

In addition to the hard copies, we have created an on-line petition herePlease share it with EVERYONE, not just your fellow Reformers!!  Your one signature is appreciated, but what is really needed, is for you to strap your boots on!  At your keyboard or at the Mall, no matter!

Also 01/27/12:  I got a call today from Annie Lawrence of the Genesee County legislature, to thank me for my help in getting signatures for the Medicaid petition. Since this is so important, they’ve decided to extend the date through February, in order to get this message and petition out to all counties in NY.

The purpose of the petition is to get the state government to take over medicaid from the counties. As it stands right now, just about all of our property taxes go towards medicaid benefits; and the state DICTATES TO US, WHAT WE MUST PAY. If the state takes it over, they will have to reform the system, because the state has a budget cap.

I’m attaching the petition PDF (medicaid_petition ucc-afp) again…PLEASE…. at least get 10 signatures from family, coworkers,
and/or friends, or, if the weather is decent, go to neighbors. I stood in the mall for an hour, and got 55 signatures. If we ever want mandate relief, this is a great place to start, but we need everyone’s help. Thank you,
Ellie Corcoran
(You can contact me at 716-741-1076, or 716-864-2753, or ecorcoran1@roadrunner.com I will make arrangements for pick up or mail)


Fulton Co: Urge property-tax relief

February 12, 2012 The Leader Herald

Not too long ago, citizens in Fulton County and the state received their 2012 county property-tax bills. In New York state, these property-tax bills are far too high because they are loaded with the costs of state-imposed mandates. People need to take notice that state legislators in the other 49 states do not levy such a high burden through unfair property taxes.

Citizens can now use a new online Internet link, mandaterelief.com, to demand property-tax relief from their state legislators. The link has three easy steps that take less than a minute to complete. A message will go directly to the state officials who control about 85 percent of your property-tax bill.

Click on www.mandaterelief.com today.


Chairman, Fulton County Board of Supervisors

State, Local Officials Talk Mandate Relief at Hearing

Governor’s office says relief package would save billions for local governments, school districts.

Glen Cove mayor Ralph Suozzi and state assemblyman Charles Lavine attended a public hearing Friday where Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy met with local officials to review and advance proposals which would reduce the burden of state mandates on local governments and school districts.

“This is the single greatest issue of our financial stability,” said Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano. “Unfunded mandates have such an effect on the county – our pension costs went up from $94 million to $113 million from 2010 to 2011, and in 2012, it’s $160 million. We’ve managed to absorb and reduce costs to avoid passing on a tax increase, but we need help to fix this issue.”

Mangano also cited other unfunded mandates in 2012, such as the $250 million for Medicaid and $175 million for the Early Intervention Program for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families.

“These are good programs, I think we can agree on this,” he said. “The savings from New York State are welcome relief.”

“We’ve spoken about this before with various state organizations,” Suozzi said after the meeting. “Everything we’re talking about applies to Glen Cove.”

The mayor became familiar with the effects of mandate costs over the course of preparing the city’s budget for 2012. Pension costs mandated by the state increased by $1 million and health insurance costs went up by about $500,000, amounting to a $1.5 million, 6.6 percent increase just as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s two percent property tax increase cap took effect.

Suozzi and the Glen Cove City Council were able to adopt their 2012 budget by absorbing the costs of public employee pensions and healthcare through staff reductions which saved $550,000, as well as $100,000 in cuts at the Glen Cove Senior Center and lowering debt service payments.

Assemblyman Charles Lavine sits as chairman of the assembly’s Administrative Regulation Review Commission.

“The need for mandate relief in New York is compelling,” he said. “The neighborhoods I represent are in a county infamous for collecting the second-highest property taxes in the state. I look forward to seeing these relief programs not only lowering property taxes, but also reaffirming New York as a great place to raise a family or start a business.”

The hearing was also attended by state senator Carl Marcellino, who said he hoped for fast action on the part of the mandate relief council.

According to the governor’s office, the proposed relief package would provide billions of dollars in savings to local governments and school districts, and would include Medicaid relief, pension reform and early intervention and preschool education reforms.

Related Topics:Unfunded Mandates, mandate relief council, and state mandates

County executives share Medicaid concerns

Times Herald-Record Published: 2:00 AM – 02/22/12

POUGHKEEPSIE — Ask the Orange, Ulster and Dutchess county executives what they want most to fix and the answer was unanimous Tuesday — Medicaid..

Diana concurred, but was skeptical about seeing any action in Albany during an election year because counties can’t wait too long. Medicaid reform, along with pension reform, must happen, Diana said, “or you will bankrupt every county in the state.”

Molinaro, a Republican who previously served in the state Assembly, predicted that body’s Democrat majority will be the most difficult to get on board with Medicaid reform…

Local leaders discuss mandate relief at NYSAC conference

Mandate relief was once again the hot topic at last week’s New York State Association of Counties conference in Albany.

“That was the biggest thing on the agenda — how we’re going to get the public riled up and get state legislators to support mandate relief,” said Lewis County Legislature Vice Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan, who participated in a panel discussion on the topic Wednesday.

“Throughout the whole conference, there was a lot of discussion on mandate relief,” St. Lawrence County Administrator Karen M. St. Hilaire said. “Mandates are really the cost drivers.”…

Counties keep pressure on state for mandate relief

February 3, 2012 By Tom Rivers trivers@batavianews.com The Daily News Online

Gov. Andrew Cuomo seems to have heard the message from county leaders throughout the state, that the local governments need relief from shouldering some of the state’s mandated programs.

Cuomo has proposed a three-year gradual phase-in to cap the counties’ share of the Medicaid program. The counties are currently capped at a 3 percent annual (medicaid) growth rate, but county leaders say that stresses their budgets and puts them on pace to exceed the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap…

Astorino calls for immediate relief on state mandates

WHITE PLAINS – Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino said the county’s ability to provide local services will remain seriously threatened unless Albany takes immediate steps to rein in unfunded mandates…

Cayuga County would welcome state takeover of Medicaid cost hikes

Here again the tax cap in of itself just doesn’t cut it…

Chautauqua Co Exec Edwards: Immediate Relief Needed

State Budget Savings Are Far Off

MAYVILLE – The impact of Albany’s mandates on counties isn’t going away any time soon, it’s just not going to increase all that much. Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed ideas for relief in his 2012-13 budget proposal on Tuesday. County leaders were relieved to hear issues such as Medicaid and pension reform being talked about by the state’s leader.

However, ideas mentioned by Gov. Cuomo don’t look to translate to any immediate cost-savings for counties. In fact, the cost of Medicaid, for instance, will still increase for counties in 2013 and 2014 under the governor’s proposal – just not as much as counties were expecting…

Pressure Mounts on Medicaid Cap

January 26, 2012 Russell Sykes

Just-released November data indicate that Medicaid spending was within Governor Cuomo’s new cap through the first two-thirds of fiscal 2011-12 — but just barely.

The $15.3 billion cap on state-funded Medicaid spending within the Department of Health (DOH) was a hallmark of Cuomo’s budget control and reform for fiscal 2011-12. Future annual growth is supposed to be limited to the 4 percent average rate of medical cost inflation over the last 10 years.


Fulton County – Officials say Medicaid relief a start 

Cuomo’s Medicaid plan draws mixed reviews – Some say state mandate relief should still go farther

Saratoga County officials – Mandate relief included in Gov. Cuomo’s state budget proposal falls short   BALLSTON SPA — Saratoga County supervisors are saying the mandate relief Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo proposed Tuesday is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to providing any sort of meaningful relief for the county or its residents…

With budget deals, state wipes out long-term deficits  (or least that’s the assumption)

Giving credit where credit is due – By cutting out the built-in growth factors for state programs, Cuomo has changed the state’s accounting of its budget deficits, said E.J. McMahon, senior fellow for the conservative Empire Center for New York State Policy.

“He appropriately made the projections more realistic by removing escalators for Medicaid and school aid from his assumptions,” McMahon said.

But McMahon also said, “That reflects a new set of assumption: He binds and disciplines the Legislature to those levels.”

McMahon said the state is also delaying some payments, such as borrowing off the pension fund to pay for growing costs for retirees. And budget projections have sprung holes in recent years…

Unfair Medicaid Costs

Report Calls For A New Way To Pay

December 30, 2011 By Nicholas L. Dean (ndean@post-journal.com)

NEW YORK CITY – Medicaid is costing counties in the state too much, according to a recent report by the Citizens Budget Commission.

The report is titled “A Poor Way to Pay for Medicaid: Why New York Should Eliminate Local Funding for Medicaid.” In the report, the Citizens Budget Commission describes the inequity found throughout the state on a county-by-county basis.

According to the findings, Medicaid costs are shown to be not only inequitable and out of step with efforts to control costs in the program, but also out of line with practices in all other states. The Citizens Budget Commission is an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization. The group’s report researched the financial and management practices of the state of New York and New York City.

County Executive Greg Edwards shared the report in his Monday Morning Memo on Dec. 19, pointing to its finding that counties with less income, such as Chautauqua County, get punished disproportionately in the cost of programs such as Medicaid when compared with counties having greater wealth and per capita income.

The full report, as well as other additional information, can be found attached with this article online at www.post-journal.com.


[View the full file here: infographic describes visually the effects of this long-standing problem.]


In a news release announcing the report, the Citizens Budget Commission pointed to the $6.5 billion paid for Medicaid by New York’s counties in 2008. The next state closest to New York in terms of county costs for Medicaid was California, where a total of $1 billion was spent that year.

Elsewhere in the country, a total of 22 states require no local contribution for Medicaid at all.

Of the 27 states other than New York which require a local share, most require localities to pay only for administrative costs or some other minimal contribution.

“New York’s current local Medicaid burden is regressive and inequitable,” according to the Citizens Budget Commission. “Taxpayers in low-income counties tend to pay more towards Medicaid per person and relative to their wealth than taxpayers in more affluent counties.”


To make comparisons more directly relevant to individual taxpayers, the Citizens Budget Commission has created an online tool which allows New Yorkers to estimate average local Medicaid costs according to their home property value and to compare costs in their county to those required in neighboring counties. The Medicaid calculator is available online at www.cbcny.org.

“It’s time for the state to face up to the difficult issue of finding statewide revenues to replace the regressive system now used to pay the local portion of Medicaid costs,” said Carol Kellermann, Citizens Budget Commission president.

The Citizens Budget Commission was founded in 1932 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit civic organization devoted to influencing constructive change in the finances and services of the state and New York City governments.

Proposals Fail To Pass Assembly

From Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb: “From what has been reported in the media so far, the bottom line is that taxes are being raised in New York State and we are still not dealing with our state’s serious spending problem. There is still no significant unfunded mandate relief for local governments. We should be protecting taxpayers by capping local Medicaid costs, enacting a state spending cap and doing this through an open, public process where these issues are debated and discussed in the light of day, not through secret deals behind closed doors by three-men-in-a-room. Tax hikes have never been the answer for creating more private sector jobs and long-term prosperity for New Yorkers. That still holds true today.”

From Assemblyman Steve McLauglin: A family making $100,000 will see $400 more per year or $33.33 per month. Less than the cost of a tank of gas. You are being scammed if you believe this is a serious tax cut. None of the three have the guts or fortitude to address New York’s out of control spending problem. I’d have more respect for them if they’d have kept the current tax structure. At least that structure would’ve raised the revenue needed to close the gap. They chose the smoke and mirrors route and a change that will not close the existing budget gap.

The reality is that the underlying problem — too much spending, unfunded mandates on localities (unreasonable medicaid costs) pension benefits — have not been resolved. The changes that Larry, Curly and Moe agreed to, do not resolve the problem, yet they have proven one thing: Their word means absolutely nothing. No matter how they sell it, taxes are going up to the tune of $2 billion dollars, money that could be used to create jobs.

Everything you need to know about Cuomo’s Tax Hike

https://i1.wp.com/newyorklibertyreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Empire-Center.jpgOn Dec. 6, 2011, Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders announced a deal to extend New York’s biggest income tax increase in 50 years, targeting earners of $1 million and more for what will be the third highest income tax rate imposed by any major state. About one quarter of the $2.6 billion tax hike will be redistributed in the form of tax cuts for middle-class filers, and the rest will be spent. This page, which will be continuously updated, features Empire Center commentary and analysis on this topic.

Next is a good example of what is going on, or needs to be going on, in several counties, including fellow Western NY county of Chautauqua. Privatizing county nursing / county homes, for the sake of the taxpayers for whom it’s costing millions in losses.

Catholic Health proposes county nurse privatization

January 20, 2012 By Bill Wolcott The Tonawanda News

— Niagara County is getting out of the nursing care business and is prepared to accept a bid which would net Niagara County’s taxpayers $2.65 million.

The Niagara County Legislature will hear proposals to privatize nursing care at the Community Services and Administrative Committees meetings at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the County Courthouse on Hawley Street.

The lawmakers are expected to act on a recommendation by County Manager Jeffrey M. Glatz and Public Health Director Daniel J. Stapleton to sell the county’s home healthcare certificate to Catholic Health. The proposal has been endorsed by Community Services Committee Chairman Tony Nemi, I-Lockport/Pendleton.

“We got out of the long-term healthcare business to save money. It was a loser for us,” County Chairman Bill Ross said. “It’s not only to save money, but make some money.”

The health department has the full-time equivalent of 12 employees who work out of the Shaw Building on the Mountview Campus and the Trott Center in Niagara Falls. There were about 20 full- and part-time registered nurses and home health aides. Some left through attrition.

Catholic Health Services will offer employment to all the employees. “Any of the nurses that don’t have a job, they will hire,” Ross said.

“It’s a big deal,” Stapleton said. “The health department will continue to thrive and focus on mission, which is protecting public health.”

Five competitors bid on the certificate, including Niagara Hospice which initially offered $3.7 million but dropped out. Catholic Health offered $2,600,000 and VNA offered $2,500,000 with a down payment of $250,000. Catholic Health made an immediate down payment of $795,000.

“It’s going out of the public hands of the county to save you and me money,” Ross said. “It will save money, because we won’t have those people on staff … We are selling it. It’s a sellable item. We are looking at quite a bit of money.”

“We’re getting out of the businesses we shouldn’t be in,” Ross said. “Before we shut down Mount View, we were losing a million dollars a year.” …

Next up, something needing repealed for some time, and at this point enough is enough. No matter how much the Public Unions object, repeal this now !

Triborough Trouble

How an obscure state law guarantees pay hikes for government employees

Complete report in PDF format

January 11, 2012 What you’ll learn from this report:

  •  * New York’s 30-year-old “Triborough Amendment” requires public employers to maintain all contractual perks for unionized public employees, including automatic “step” increases in pay, after the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement.
  •  * This law gives unions an incentive to resist negotiating structural changes to their contracts, since the status quo will be preserved even if there is no contract.
  •  * Pay hikes required by the Triborough Amendment cost the state government $140 million a year, despite a “freeze” on base salaries.
  •  * The Triborough Amendment guarantees pay increases for teachers that add almost $300 million a year to school budgets across the state.
  •  * The requirement to finance automatic pay increases has undermined attempts to stretch taxpayer dollars further in a time of extreme financial stress.
  • Repeal of the Triborough Amendment would establish a more equitable collective bargaining system in New York’s public sector, preserving basic union rights while giving local officials the tools they now lack to negotiate needed changes to costly and outmoded contracts.
  • MORE…

Related Publication:

Repealing New York’s Triborough Amendment is

‘Core Reform Issue in State’

For Immediate Release
Contact: Bill O’Reilly, 212-938-0004

New Yorkers for Growth Challenges Governor Cuomo, Legislative Leaders, and
Legislators to Make Positions Clear on Repeal of Law

New York, NY-Jan. 19…New Yorkers for Growth , a leading voice for responsible fiscal policy in New York State, today announced its chief legislative priority for 2011: repealing New York’s Triborough Amendment which has unfairly added millions of dollars in extra costs to state, county, and local governments, the group says.

The Triborough Amendment, which was enacted in 1982 as an amendment to New York’s Taylor Law, prohibits a public employer -the taxpayers – from changing any provision in an expired labor contract until a new contract is signed. In other words, it’s rigged: it guarantees built-in pay increases and benefits for unionized public employees in perpetuity if a new contract is not signed. That removes any incentive for public service unions to negotiate, guaranteeing that any new contract be more generous than the last.

“Repeal of the Triborough Amendment is an essential first step for fiscal reform in New York State,” said New Yorkers for Growth spokesman, former Larchmont Mayor Liz Feld. “We have a rigged system in New York with the public service unions holding all the cards. New Yorkers for Growth strongly urges the State Legislature and Governor Cuomo to repeal this ridiculous law.”

New Yorkers for Growth urges Governor Cuomo to take the leadership role in repealing the Triborough Amendment:

“To his credit, Governor Cuomo has said he is willing to take on the public service unions to save this state and its local governments from fiscal insolvency,” Ms. Feld continued. “But that cannot happen with the union-biased Triborough Amendment in place. We therefore urge Governor Cuomo to make clear his support for repeal.”

To learn more about New Yorkers for Growth, please visit www.newyorkersforgrowth.com.

 Click to contact your Reps, tell them to support this effort.

Thanks to your support, our efforts are beginning to pay off. Triborough Amendment repeal is now very much on the radar in New York.

Already this week, we have seen the issue debated in three major New York newspapers: by New Yorkers for Growth-endorsed Rob Astorino in the New York Post, the Empire Center’s Russell Sykes in the Buffalo News and by columnist Bill Hammond in the Daily News. Here are the links to all three articles:

New York Post: Labor Law is Choking NY’s Governments

by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino

Buffalo News: Drop Triborough Amendment to Control Expenses 

by Empire Center for New York State Policy senior fellow Russell Sykes

New York Daily News: Cuomo Must Break Public Union’s Grip Over New York 

(How public workers rig the game) by Bill Hammond

For more on union issues, jump below…

Meanwhile, on the mandate relief front

E.J. McMahon Jan 17, 2012

Governor Cuomo’s 2012-13 budget, to be presented later today, will command media attention for the rest of the week. Advance reports on his modified pension reform proposal are especially promising. Meanwhile, there’s a (fiscally) cost-free approach to helping local governments and school districts alleviate their budget problems: repealing the Triborough Amendment

Just so you know, it’s 2012 and here we go again:

FYITax Freedom Day Arrives on April 24 in New York, ranking us one of the worst again, and again, and!!!
Tax Freedom Day is the day when Americans finally have earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year. In 2011, New York taxpayers work until April 24, ranking it 3rd highest in the nation.
New York’s State and Local Tax Burden Second-Highest in Nation, again, and again, and!!!
During the past three decades, New York’s state and local tax burden percentage has ranked among the nation’s highest, currently estimated at 12.1% of income (2nd nationally), above the current national average of 9.8%.

Now if that didn’t rile you up, this surely ought to:

Pay NY lawmakers more? (Assembly Speaker Silver wants what, no way. Hey Shelly, why don’t you read that little tax day piece above, and the last line below. You really want to make these things worse? Well sure you do, cause that’s what happens when you are no reformer, but rather are a part of the problem!)

E.J. McMahon January 23, 2012

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver may seek a pay hike for members of the New York State Legislature before the year is out, today’s New York Post reports.  New York part-time lawmakers now make a base salary of $79,500 a year, plus $171 for every day in Albany and added stipends for leadership positions and committee chairmanships. The speaker’s own pay is $120,000 plus expenses.

As of 2011, New York’s legislative compensation was already the third highest of any state. For details, see our Data Bank here.

  • Should NY lawmakers give themselves a pay raise?  ALBANY — It’s a fact. New York State lawmakers haven’t had a pay raise in the last 13 years, not since 1999 (yet they are still the 3rd most compensated body nationally). If they don’t vote themselves a pay raise this year, they’d have to wait at least another three years. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he thinks lawmakers deserve more money. According to US Census data, the real median household income was $49,445 in 2010. The base salary for New York State legislators is $79,500, but with extra pay such as for chairmanships, they average just over $90,000. Speaker Silver said, “Well, obviously it’s never a good time to make the case and I’m not making the case. I am saying that members work hard, many of them are full time legislators.” (No, at the same base pay, all are either full time or all are part time). Assembly Majority Leader, Ron Canestrari (D), does not think that they are underpaid. Assemblyman Jim Tedisco (R) has served 30 years in the legislature, has never voted for a pay raise, and says he never will. Tedisco said, “If the legislature wants a pay raise, just like they go before the voters to be reelected, a pay raise should be out on the ballot.” Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos, said the pay raise issue has not been discussed in the senate.

In the following segment, here is but one example of that which is true in about every county: The pay cut of just 5%, to just 64 county employees, saves the tax payer $385 thousand. That’s wonderful but that’s just non-union workers so consider a 5% cut across the board for all county employees (which would be fair), now the tax payer saves $? millions! (The sad thing is in many cases, not only are the 100’s of county union workers seeing no cuts, they’re probably getting automatic increases.)

By: YNN Web Staff

BROOME COUNTY, N.Y. — After less than one month in office, Broome County Executive Debbie Preston is putting forth a resolution that would fulfill one of her campaign promises.

Preston’s proposal would cut the salary of 64 county employees by five percent. The total savings to the county would be more than $365,000 this year alone.

The county legislature will vote on the measure Thursday night and if passed, the pay cuts will take affect later this month.

Preston says cuts like these are just part of the larger task of getting the county on track financially.

“This is just the beginning. We will look at every penny that is spent and every budget line. Things are going to be done differently. They have to be done differently,” Preston said.

The proposed cuts will account for approximately one tenth of a percent of Broome County’s $360 million budget.


Tracking firms, jobs and economic growth in the Empire State

Complete report in PDF format (updated)

Executive Summary

Employment statistics are the leading indicator of what’s happening in New York State’s economy. However, traditional government job counts don’t tell us much about the underlying dynamics of job creation. Information on openings and closings, expansions and contractions, and interstate movements by employer “establishments” in New York has not been as readily available – until now.

This report draws from the newly developed National Establishment Time- Series (NETS) Database, generated from the Dun & Bradstreet Marketing Information file, to assess some of the key trends driving employment in New York from 1993 to 2008. During the period in question, our data show:

  • New York’s job base grew at just one-fifth the national rate.
  • New York gained 272,172 jobs from firms moving into the state while losing 393,280 jobs from relocations of firms to other states. As a percentage of total employment, New York’s net job migration loss was the third largest of any state. Many of these positions moved to neighboring New Jersey and Connecticut.
  • New York lost 506,620 more jobs to firm closures, or “deaths,” than it gained from firm start-ups, or “births.” The Empire State’s nega- tive ratio of job creation from start-ups was a key factor in its rela- tively weak overall employment growth during the period. Only five states performed more poorly in this category.
  • Expansion of existing firms was the leading source of employment growth in New York, creating a net 1,000,881 more jobs than firm contractions—but this wasn’t nearly enough to make up for the state’s job migration losses and its failure to nurture more start-ups.
  • Small establishments, including the self-employed, accounted for a growing share of New York jobs, but the Empire State nonetheless lagged behind most states in job creation by small firms.

Total Jobs – NY ranking only one shy of dead last:

From 1993 through 2008, New York added just 442,682 jobs to a base of almost 10 million at the start of the period. The Empire State’s 4.6 percent job growth rate, as counted by the NETS database, was just one-fifth the national average during the period. Only one state, Rhode Island, had lower growth rates by this measure.

And here’s a real important snapshot; bottom line, bad policy and bad results –

* See table 1.2: shows in part; Public Admin jobs (State gov) increasing by 23.2%, and Manufacturing jobs decreasing 28.4%, while mining- quarrying- oil & gas extraction decreased 40.1%

Hey, at least we beat New Jersey

January 26, 2012

Tim Hoefer

New York’s ranking in the Tax Foundation’s 2012 State Business Tax Climate Index is second to last, just ahead of New Jersey.  Our climate ranked 49th — second worst — in 2011, and we’re 49th again in the new index.  California was ranked just above New York at 48th.

The state’s business tax climate didn’t improve in Andrew Cuomo’s first year as governor, according to the Tax Foundation. To the contrary: while our overall ranking didn’t change, New York’s index “score” actually declined, thanks to the December 2011 income tax increase pushed through by Cuomo under the guise of “fairness reform.”



a cutting-edge quarterly magazine on
culture, politics, and urban affairs.

Christian Schneider
It’s Working in Walker’s Wisconsin

The governor’s controversial labor reforms are

already saving taxpayers millions.

Steven Malanga interviews Christian Schneider about his recent City Journal article and Governor Walker’s successful strategies that made reform in Wisconsin possible.

Listen to their discussion.

* In NY the answer is very simple: Public Sector a/k/a Government Unions are stronger and more dominant in NY than in any other state in the country. *see Table 3

** Another simple answer: The political implications and donation money whereas everything flows left. 90+% of  gov unions’ money going to democrats for the sole purpose of self perpetuation, always resulting in more government. *see Table 5

Storm Clouds Ahead: Why Conflict with Public Unions Will Continue, a new issue brief by Daniel DiSalvo, argues that the repeal of SB 5 in Ohio is not a referendum on the terms of public sector employment but rather the latest in a series of ongoing conflicts that will arise between governments and public-employee unions.

NY union bigs take heat over junket

By CARL CAMPANILE and DAN MANGAN Last Updated: 3:34 AM, December 7, 2011

It was rainy and chilly in New York City yesterday, but hundreds of local union bigs wouldn’t have known it.

As many as 300 labor bosses, who represent New York’s struggling municipal workers, have been whooping it up in sunny Puerto Rico on a union-paid junket, even as their rank-and-file members pinch pennies back home.

The honchos are on a six-day, fun-and-sun jaunt in San Juan — on their cash-strapped memberships’ dimes — preferring to host their union “convention” in a posh hotel instead of, say, more modest digs in stodgy Schenectady.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” fumed an Albany insider about the New York State Public Employee Conference’s annual frolic at the luxurious Caribe Hilton.

“It’s piggy, piggy, piggy! It’s pigging out in Puerto Rico! Then they come back to New York with their hands out.’’

Two Brooklyn politicians who sit on statehouse committees that oversee public-sector workers — Sen. Martin Golden (R) and Assemblyman Peter Abbate (D) — even held fund-raisers there, The Post has learned.

The gigs were attended by the same union officials who often appear before their committees pleading their members’ cases.

NYSPEC is comprised of unions representing thousands of state, local and other government workers, most of whom work in New York City. They include MTA workers, Port Authority police officers and NYPD captains.

The sun-soaked union bosses yesterday defended their jetting to warmer climes.

Speaking of climate issues (and bad policy) –

An initiative “proves is an impractical government policy”, and of course the main reason being the ineffective and wasteful cost to taxpayers. That said, why doesn’t the government listen? 

The High Cost of Wind Energy as a Carbon-Dioxide Reduction Method

A new Issue Brief by Manhattan Institute senior fellow, Robert Bryce, finds that wind energy’s ability to reduce CO2 is so insignificant and so expensive that it proves an impractical government policy.

and finally a word on pensions:

If you were a public employee, what would your pension be?
CalculateYourPublicPension.com launched, find ou now.

Learn More and Take Action Now!

The cost of public pensions is about to blow through the roof, with financial consequences that could affect generations of New Yorkers to come. And it’s not just pensions: state and local governments have promised over $200 billion in post-retirement health care, but set aside no money to pay for it. To learn more about the problem and take action:

The First Priority in the New Year: Pension Reform

Policy Brief (pdf)

January 2012

Lobby Day in Albany Wednesday Jan. 18th, 9-5 ~ Unfunded Mandate Relief

Unfunded Mandate Relief ~ Lobby Day in Albany Jan. 18

Posted by Raquel (Ulster-Orange) on Jan 11th, 2012 and filed under Political Blog. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry


Important Message from Lisa Thrun of Americans for Prosperity (NYS and Niagara County)

Hello Everyone!

This year is full of many challenges, not only in our state but also in our counties, towns, and school districts.

Number One on Albany’s agenda should be unfunded mandate relief. The legislature must reduce or eliminate the regulations that require local governments to perform certain actions or provide specific services without funding or with very little. However recently, the governor quietly released a final report of the Mandate Relief Redesign Team without any fanfare or even a press release. The team’s report was underwhelming at the least (even to the team), not addressing the largest burdens to taxpayers; Medicaid, Triborough Amendment, and the Wick’s Law.

School districts and local governments are in desperate need for reforms NOW!

The Upstate Conservative Coalition (Capitol Region) along with their many partners around the state have planned for a Lobbying Day at the Capitol:

Unfunded Mandate Relief Lobby Day at the Capitol

Legislative Office Building, Albany

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 / 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

We are currently awaiting confirmation on holding a rally in The Well of the LOB at 9:30 am with several elected leaders.

Taxpayers across the state are invited to join us as we send a message to Albany that unfunded mandates must go! Please make appointments with your legislators prior to next Wednesday. Talking points will be available in the Well where we will meet.

Organizers and representatives from taxpayer groups across the state have appointments to meet with some Assembly Members and Senators. A representative from each organization is invited to join us for these meetings. Please notify us ASAP if you plan on attending these meetings. Please include what group you are representing and the county you are from. You can send the info to lthrun@afphq.org or thomasjcavanagh@yahoo.com.

The UCC has put together some information on mandates. Go here to learn more.
Our friends at the Empire Center for NYS Policy released today a report called Triborough Trouble. You can also read up on the New York State’s Property Tax Cap: A Citizens Guide. Remember–if taxpayers vote down their school budget twice—the tax level reverts to the following year’s levels—-a 0% increase. No more contingency budgets!

If you cannot make it to Albany, we encourage you to call, e-mail, or make an appointment with a staffer in your Senator and Assembly Member’s local offices. Write a letter to the editor in your local newspapers and help bring attention to these costly, job-killing mandates. More importantly, tell Governor Cuomo we need mandate relief NOW! You can call him and leave a message at 518 474-8390.


Lisa Thrun, Americans for Prosperity

Americans for Prosperity Foundation

New York Chapter, Grassroots Chair



AFP NY on Facebook


Breaking News: Genesee County Legislature has launched a petition drive – State, take over Medicaid. Madison and Rensselaer Counties too.

Genesee County

Legislature drive urges state to take over Medicaid costs

Buffalo News Staff Reports

Published:January 12, 2012, 12:00 AM

BATAVIA—The Genesee County Legislature has launched a petition drive “for all concerned citizens, taxpayers and beneficiaries to sign” to persuade New York to take over all Medicaid costs.

Petitions are available at City Hall, the county Motor Vehicle and Legislature offices, and all town and village offices. They demand action on Senate and Assembly bills that would end local growth in Medicaid costs and have the state take over the entire county share by 2019.

This year, Genesee’s appropriation for Medicaid benefits is $9.87 million, 38 percent of the local property tax levy. The local share goes up 3 percent each year.

The New York State Association of Counties is leading a statewide effort to get co-sponsors for the bills and convince the governor that “real mandate relief—Medicaid reform—can and will be achieved only with the state takeover of local benefit costs.”

Genesee County Legislature Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock is current president of NYSAC.

The goal is to have legislation in place during the upcoming Albany session and make it part of the 2012-13 state budget to be adopted by April 1.


From NYSAC: Counties Advocating for Mandate Relief

Did you hear that? It’s another county calling for mandate relief.

This week, Genesee and Madison counties launched initiatives designed to engage residents in mandate relief efforts. Genesee County, led by Legislative Chairwoman Mary Pat Hancock (NYSAC President), started a petition drive for citizens to urge State leaders to enact mandate relief through a State takeover of county Medicaid costs.

The Madison County website is headlined by a call from Chairman John Becker to contact Governor Andrew Cuomo to encourage him to “Remove the Medicaid Burden from Madison County Property Taxes.” (http://www.madisoncounty.org/)

Late last month Rensselaer County Executive Kathleen Jimino launched a new website designed to encourage county residents to urge Governor Cuomo and State Lawmakers to “Stop Mandates Now.” The site (www.rensco.com/execoffice_mandaterelief.asp) localizes the fiscal impact of the 9 State mandates consuming 90 percent of the county property tax levy statewide, and provides an easy way for residents to contact State leaders.

Join the chorus. Ask your county colleagues, business leaders, community groups and homeowners to call on Governor Cuomo and your State Senator and Assemblymember to get on the Mandate Relief bandwagon. The time for talk in the State Capitol is over. The time for action is now. (Mark LaVigne)




Important Legal News: “3 separate primaries in NY?” and “New Law Requires Records Disclosure Prior to Public Meetings”

Barring an upcoming court decision or action by the New York State Legislature, counties could be coordinating 3 primary elections in New York in 2012. The first scheduled primary is the presidential primary which will be held on April 24, 2012. The next primary to be held is the primary election for federal office which will likely be in June, July, or August. Finally, New York law requires that the New York primary elections for 2012 be held on September 11, 2012. Additionally, some counties will be required to hold an additional primary election for the special elections that will be held to fill vacant seats in the New York State Legislature.

NYSAC is also awaiting a decision from the U.S. District Court of the Northern District of New York that will determine when the primary election for federal office will be held. It is anticipated that Judge Sharpe will rule that the primary be held in June, July, or August, but will not specify the date. Regardless of the outcome, the federal primary will not be permitted to be held on the same day as the New York primary election because the Military and Overseas Voter (MOVE) Act requires that absentee ballots be sent out to military and overseas voters at least 45 days prior to general election

NYSAC has asked the Governor and State Legislative Leaders to amend the election law to permit the federal primary election (non-presidential) and the New York primary election to be held on the same day. Alternatively, if the State elects to hold the federal primary election and the New York primary election on separate days, NYSAC has requested that the State assume all costs incurred by local governments for the New York primary election. (Melissa Pageau)

(2 because of the Presidential election is one thing, but 3 is simply wasteful financially, disfunctional, and an undue burden on citizens as to their involvewment in the process. This must be fixed!) 

New Law Requires Records Disclosure Prior to Public Meetings

Posted on January 9, 2012 by NYSAC

On January 3rd, Governor Cuomo signed a new law (A.72/S.3255B) that requires records to be made available to the public prior to any meeting taking place if the records are scheduled to be a subject of discussion by a public body and the meeting is subject to the Open Meetings Law. These records shall be made available to the public through the pubic entity’s website. Attached is a link to the new law language. www.open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S3255B-2011. (Patrick Cummings)

(Let your local officials know, if your municipality doesn’t have a website, they need to get one now)



  • SOS – McMahon: Cuomo’s big idea looks like 1970s
  • ICYMI – Mr. Astorino goes to Westchester: A great example of both effetive small government local leadership and standing up to unfair and improper Federal overreach (for all intent purposes a/k/a Federal mandates)
  • TELL New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to Prevent New York Subcontractors from Hiring Illegal Aliens – illegal aliens cost New York $9,479,000,000 each year (that’s 9.4 billion!)
  • Today’s moments in regulatory, big brother, malaise: NYC restaurant closed after owner recorded health inspection (and more)

Breaking News

 Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino launches new website:

To visit the stop mandates now website click image below

Stop Mandates Now

When County Executive Kathy Jimino presented her proposed 2012 County Budget, she once again called upon the Governor and State Legislature to “Stop Mandates Now” and bring real tax relief by addressing the State’s unfunded mandates that have driven local taxes in New York State to the highest in the nation. Here in Rensselaer County, 90 cents of every tax dollar collected are used to fund state mandated programs that the county has no control over.

During her address Jimino pointed to the recent New York State Association of Counties report that cited the nine state mandated programs that consume 90% of the local property tax levies of counties outside of New York City and amount to $4 billion each year.  “To fund these nine mandated costs,” Jimino stated, “Rensselaer County, with a current property tax levy of $57.3 million, is forced by law to pay the state 112% (despite tax cap of 102%) of this total tax levy which amounts to $63.3 million in local taxpayer dollars.”

“Over the last 5 years spending on local services has decreased by 11% while state mandated spending has increased by a whopping 54%!”

Note: As in all counties, the biggest mandate culprit – Medicaid !  




~ ~ ~

Enough is Enough – NYS-County Medicaid Boycott

Background (Preamble):

Target: Your County Governments and New York State Government
Message:The cost of the Medicaid is out of control. The financial burden of the program is placed on County’s and ultimately being shouldered by property tax payers.The State must take action to take financial responsibility for the program in an effort to lower property taxes in New York State.

Until the State takes responsibility for this burdensome program we are advocating that Counties withhold Medicaid payments made to the State of New York.

Objective: Passage of a bill that requires the State to take over the funding of Medicaid.

Strategy: Build a Coalition of support to withhold Medicaid payments to New York State through the Boycott Petition.

The Petition:


TO: County Leaders of New York State – Stop Medicaid Payments to New York State Government

FROM: The People of the Counties of New York State

We hereby decry the NY State Government’s neglect to cede to county governments, the ability and authority to control spending on expensive state mandated programs and local personnel costs associated with these unfunded mandates. The lack of overall mandate relief, especially Medicaid reform, continues to be a crushing burden on county finances and county property tax payers. The burden of unfunded mandates is resulting in either municipalities having to bypass the tax cap, or their having to drastically slash local programs to meet the requirements of the tax cap;

THEREFORE, we call for a boycott by our County Executives and County Legislatures, asking that they: STOP MAKING MEDICAID PAYMENTS TO NEW YORK STATE Government.

• That counties stop payments to pressure New York State government to put an end to unfunded mandates, in that these mandates are increasing local property taxes and undermining the competitiveness of our region for economic growth, job retention and job growth.

• It is time for our county executives (managers or supervisors), with the support of local legislature’s and in conjunction with other counties throughout the State, begin withholding Medicaid payments in protest and until New York State takes responsibility for the cost burden of this unfunded mandate.

WE ALSO call on the State Senate and State Assembly to enact legislation that requires that New York State take responsibility for the cost of Medicaid. And we call on the Governor to sign this legislation into law. This will allow New York’s counties to enact relief from some of the highest property taxes in the nation.

FURTHERMORE, it is time for the State to reform the Medicaid program itself. New York has the most costly Medicaid program in the nation, currently spending over $1 billion per week!

“Enough is Enough” so say we the undersigned:

Sign the petition

UCC: Stop Unfunded State Mandates


Join the fight and help put an end to unfunded / underfunded State Mandates.

Background (Preamble):New York State has some of the highest school and property taxes in the nation. Unfunded and underfunded mandates passed down from both the federal level and state level are to blame.The taxpayers of New York are fleeing the state in record numbers. We need to put pressure on our representatives in both Albany and Washington to make changes before it is too late. Sign our petition and make your voices heard!

Petition:We the undersigned, the hardworking taxpayers of New York demand relief from the overbearing State and Federal mandates that have been illegally placed upon us.We can no longer afford to live in a state that has the highest property taxes as a percentage of income in the nation.



Unfunded State Mandates HANDOUT (pdf)

NY group seeks local government mandate relief. Unshackle Upstate and LET NY WORK

Wall Street Journal Online

NOVEMBER 2, 2011, 7:18 A.M. ET

ALBANY, N.Y. — An unusual mix of business, school, farm and taxpayer groups has tried to remind Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators to fulfill campaign promises to cut “unfunded mandates” that drive up cost for schools and local governments across New York state.

Despite the diversity of Let NY Work and what a member said was a request by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for new ideas, the organization received a luke-warm response Tuesday. The group seeks to reduce state costs of mandates from Albany, many of which benefit powerful political partners in labor.

Cuomo said Tuesday that he understands local governments see state government’s mandates as “onerous.”

“I think mandate relief is a work in progress,” Cuomo said. “We made progress on the mandate reliefs this past session, some would say not enough. We’ll do it again.”

It wasn’t as aggressive a plan as Cuomo outlined in his campaign last year, when he pushed for a 2-percent cap on the growth of property taxes that would be followed by mandate relief to help schools and local governments live under it. The tax cap passed, but there has been little mandate relief so far.

“To provide a high-quality education and local government services at a more affordable cost, school districts and localities must be given the ability to rein in costs in a way that is made almost impossible today by unfunded state mandates,” stated Cuomo’s campaign platform last fall. “We will immediately move to eliminate unnecessary mandates.”

On Tuesday, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he would consider the proposals.

Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate, said Tuesday was still a good start.

“The administration has to figure out where they are going to be in mandate relief,” Sampson said in an interview Tuesday night. “We still have a lot of time before the legislative session gets going.”

He said the result of mandate relief, much of it opposed by politically powerful unions, will be a “a government that is smaller, more nimble and less costly providing the services we’ve all come to expect.”

The goals of Let NY Work include:

—Offer two retirement options to new government employees, each cheaper than the traditional pensions that are driving employer contributions by schools and local government.

—Add factors that include a local government’s ability to pay in a labor contract arbitration and making the process more transparent.

—Eliminate some state provisions in public construction that drive up the cost by assuring more union work.

—Freeze “step increases” that continue for many public employees even if their labor contract expires. Employers argue the step increases guarantee raises for teachers and others reduce the incentive to settle on an affordable contract.

—Require all public employees to pay at least a minimum health insurance cost.

—Prohibit new mandates from Albany or require a supermajority of the Legislature before schools and local governments can take on new duties or responsibilities from Albany without getting funding for the mandate.

Let NY Work includes the state Business Council, the Farm Bureau, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the New York Conference of Municipal Officials, the state School Boards Association, the New York State Association of Realtors, and the Council of School Superintendents.

“In order to rebuild our economy and our state, we must reduce costs on job creators, taxpayers, local governments and school districts alike,” said Mike Elmendorf, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New York State.

—Copyright 2011 Associated Press

NFIB Leading Coalition for Mandate Relief

‎Monday, ‎October ‎31, ‎2011, ‏‎8:00:00 PM
Director Mike Durant will join nearly a dozen advocacy group leaders from the private and public sectors calling for sweeping mandate relief.

Unshackle UpstateBehind NY’s Problems: Big Spending, High Taxes

Upstate’s growth is undermined by a state government that has focused on big spending and high taxes. We’ve introduced plans to lower taxes, grow our economy and make our government more accountable to change that.


 New statewide Coalition – Let New York Work: A Common Agenda for the Common Good

 Posted:Nov 1st, 2011

A historic coalition of eleven prominent business, local government and educational organizations launched a new, comprehensive initiative to advance significant mandate relief. The effort, Let New York Work: A Common Agenda for the Common Good, consists of six key measures that will provide relief from mandates faced by all New Yorkers.

The agenda’s main points include:

  • Make the pension system predictable and affordable – The state should offer two retirement options to new employees – a reduced defined benefit plan or a new defined contribution plan that is controlled by the employees and does not weigh down taxpayers.
  • Redefine compulsory arbitration – A number of amendments are needed to the state’s compulsory arbitration statute that will benefit local municipalities and taxpayers such as: defining the ability to pay; prohibiting consideration of non-compensation issues; limiting access to binding arbitration; and, adding transparency to the arbitration process.
  • Reduce the costs of construction on public/private projects – The state should enact a number of measures that will spur building and development such as: supporting alternative project delivery methods like design build; increasing the Wicks Law threshold across the state; enacting the Public Construction Savings Act (S.4121/A.7855); and making common sense changes to the antiquated Scaffold Law.
  • Freeze step increases when contracts expire – Due to the state’s Triborough Amendment, public employees’ pay continue to increase under an expired contract, placing additional burdens on school districts and municipalities.
  • Establish minimum health insurance contribution level for employees and retirees – Employers should cover no more than 85 percent of a single healthcare premium or 75 percent of a healthcare premium for families or retirees.
  • Prohibit new mandates – The state should not impose any future mandates on municipalities, school districts and taxpayers. Enacting the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act (S.5379/A.8150) and requiring a super-majority to add new unfunded mandates would be beneficial.

Following the passage of the 2-percent property tax cap earlier this year, members of the newly-formed coalition recognized the need for a unified pro-mandate relief voice leading up to the 2012 legislative session.

“Just as we faced the property tax cap head on, we must focus on enacting meaningful mandate relief,” said Brian Sampson, executive director of Unshackle Upstate. “Making our communities more affordable and preventing the insolvency of local governments and school districts needs to be our top priority. Doing so will help to stabilize the state’s economy and provide a sense of security for taxpayers.”

Representing prominent business, local government and education organizations across the state, the coalition’s leaders strongly believe that mandate relief is essential to the future of New York’s economy.

“In order to rebuild our economy and our state, we must reduce costs on job creators, taxpayers, local governments and school districts alike. The comprehensive reform agenda that a historic and unprecedented coalition of organizations representing all of these entities is advancing today is a critical and common sense step in that direction,” said Mike Elmendorf, President and CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New York State.

“Real mandate relief is part of a broader goal of controlling total state and local spending, and lowering the combined tax burden on individuals and businesses,” said Heather Briccetti, acting-president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “A more competitive cost climate is essential for promoting new investment and new job growth in New York. The enactment of a 2 percent cap on the growth of property taxes was the first step. By working together, members of this newly-formed coalition hope to rein in the high cost of state mandates and provide much-needed fiscal relief to municipalities.”

“Outdated, only-in-New-York laws, like labor law 240/241, are actually unfunded mandates on our municipalities,” said Tom Stebbins, executive director, Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York. “Our local communities pay for these unnecessary laws in the form of inflated legal settlements, skyrocketing insurance rates and prohibitively high construction costs. We need to free our municipalities from these antiquated laws in order to make New York a better place to live and do business.”

“This is not the first tough year for schools. We have had three years of state aid cuts and freezes,” said Robert Reidy, executive director, New York State Council of School Superintendents. “With the prospect of operating under a tax cap it is imperative schools get help to preserve services for children. Immediate and significant mandate relief is necessary to maintain quality services for all children.”

“New York is at a crossroads and action is needed now to stem the high costs of mandates on local governments and school districts. These mandates translate into ever increasing costs for agricultural businesses and create a very unfavorable environment for farm retention and growth. While the enactment of the property tax cap helped solve the first half of the problem, New York must address the cost drivers for local governments and school districts to truly let New York work,” said Jeff Williams, Manager of Governmental Relations for New York Farm Bureau.

“Enacting the property tax cap was the first step in drastically changing the future for New York’s small business owners and taxpayers. This coalition of business, school and municipal leaders stands here today advancing the critical second step of mandate relief. This agenda will drastically reform our business climate, by addressing many of the key cost drivers that have driven businesses and people from New York’s borders, and provide significant relief to communities and school districts across the state from public pension and health benefit costs that are rising at an unsustainable rate. We urge the Governor and legislative leaders to heed this call of business owners and taxpayers, setting New York on a course for a new dawn of prosperity,” said Mike Durant, New York State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business

“New York’s local government cost structure, in its current mandate-driven form, cannot support real and sustainable property tax relief. A property tax cap, alone, will not change this fact,” said Peter A. Baynes, executive director of the New York Conference of Mayors. “Yet, with the significant mandate relief our broadly-based coalition is advancing today, there is an opportunity to finally change this destructive equation and provide the property tax relief New Yorkers desperately need.”

“Now is the time to finish the job of building meaningful and lasting property tax relief,” said Duncan MacKenzie, CEO of the New York State Association of REALTORS. “The cap approved earlier this year provided the framework for ending the cycle of property taxpayer abuse. To fulfill the promise of sustainable tax relief, this diverse coalition calls on state lawmakers to rethink every existing mandate and refrain from any further unfunded requirements on our schools and local governments. While the tax cap issue created divides between business and local taxing entities, mandate relief does not.”

“As school districts continue to grapple with the worst fiscal crisis in a generation, they need a new set of rules. The Let New York Work proposals, if enacted, would result in dramatic improvements to the fiscal health of our schools,” said Timothy Kremer, executive director, New York State School Boards Association. “They would also result in a more viable system of operating in this heightened era of fiscal responsibility and taxpayer fatigue. If we are to simultaneously address the fiscal crisis and advance academic achievement we must focus resources on those things that improve results for kids.”

“The Westchester County Association is very pleased to be a part of the Let New York Work coalition. We have long believed that once the tax cap was passed, there would be a collective outcry for mandate reform,” said Bill Mooney, president of the Westchester County Association. “Having the business community joined by local government and school groups with one common agenda, sends a powerful message to our elected officials in Albany that meaningful and significant mandate relief must be achieved in 2012.”

Following today’s release of the Let New York Work agenda, the group will continue to advocate for the passage of the agenda during the 2012 legislative session. 

Mandate relief proposal unveiled at Capitol

CBS 6 Albany – Video Posted: Nov 4th, 2011

Send a Message to Your State Lawmaker

Join us in sending a message to Albany. Whether it’s fighting for reduced taxes or state spending, e-mail your representative and let them know your position on important issues.


State Lawmakers Support State Medicaid Takeover Legislation, has support in 51 Counties

Medicaid Relief Proposal

Take a look at this video of a press conference held on September 19 about a new Medicaid relief proposal that will mean tax relief for counties across New York State.

CONTACT your State Legislature officials and let them know you support their sponsorship of this legislation, or request that they become a sponsor today! As for your County officials, request that they do their part to keep pressure on the state and pass resolutions in support of this bill.

Additionally, Take  Action by Signing these Petitions:

State Lawmakers Support State Medicaid Takeover Proposal

BILL NUMBER: S.5889B (Gallivan) / A.8644 (Paulin)


An act to amend chapter 58 of the laws of 2005, relating to authorizing reimbursements for expenditures made by or on behalf of social services districts for medical assistance for needy persons and the administration thereof, in relation to calculating social services district
medical assistance expenditure amounts

This bill provides for an immediate freeze of local contributions to the cost of Medicaid followed by the gradual state assumption of all non- federal Medicaid costs over an 8-year period.

Sections 1 and 2 of Part C of Chapter 58 of the Laws of 2005 are amended to provide a phased takeover of the local share of Medicaid costs.

Since the enactment of the Medicaid program in 1965, local social service districts (counties and the City of New York) have been required to share in both the cost and administrative operation of the program. Over the years, the cost of the program has grown exponentially while responsibility for program design and administration has been gradually shifted to the state. By 2016, all administrative responsibility for Medicaid will be assumed by the state.

Despite this shift of responsibility, county and New York City governments continue to be required to contribute a significant share of the total program cost. Currently, counties and New York City pay approximately $7.3 billion per year and under existing law, these costs will
continue to increase by 3% each year. With the recently enacted 2% cap on property taxes, counties simply cannot continue to meet this state mandate without slashing other essential local services such as senior services, veteran’s services, law enforcement, parks, and road maintenance.

This legislation provides for the gradual assumption of the current local shares starting with an immediate freeze on local contributions effective January 1, 2012. On October 1, 2012, local contributions will be reduced by 5%. Additional reductions will be made in the subsequent
years ending the with the full assumption of local Medicaid costs in 2019.

The timing of this legislation is designed to take advantage of changes that may be required by the federal Affordable Care Act as well as state actions being implemented or planned by the Governor’s Medicaid Redesign Team. Given the phased nature of the takeover, there is ample time for the Governor and Legislature to develop and consider changes to the program that may be required to maintain program compliance with federal law as well as affordability to the state.

New Bill.

This act shall take effect immediately.

Sponsors of S.5889B/A.8644 as of 10/27/11


Co-Prime Sponsors: Paulin, Sweeney, Lupardo, Lifton, Magnarelli, Schimminger, Abinanti, Galef, Latimer, Lavine, Roberts, Thiele, Spano, Gunther, Jaffee, Brindisi, Molinaro, Giglio

Multi Sponsors: Magee, Boyle, Johns, Tedisco, Palmesano, Burling, Ceretto, Kolb, Smardz, Tenney, Barclay, McDonough, Hawley, Castelli, Corwin

Sponsor breakdown by region/county

• Albany
• Allegany- Young (S-57), Burling (A-147), Giglio (A-149)
• Broome – Libous (S-52), Lupardo (A-126)
• Cattaraugus – Young (S-57), Giglio (A-149)
• Cayuga – Valesky (S-49), Kolb (A-129), Nozzolio (S-54)
• Chautauqua – Young (S-57), Giglio (A-149), pending Goodell (A-150)
• Chemung – O’Mara (S-53)
• Chenango – Libous (S-52), Seward (S-51)
• Clinton
• Columbia – Molinaro (A-103)
• Cortland – Seward (S-51), Lifton A-125), Kolb (A-129)
• Delaware – Bonacic (S-42)
• Dutchess – Molinaro (A-103)
• Erie – Gallivan (S-59), Razenhofer (S-61), Grisanti (S-60), Schimminger (A-140), Smardz (A146), Corwin (A-142)
• Essex
• Franklin
• Fulton – Farley (S-44), Butler (A-117)
• Genesee – Ranzenhofer (S-61), Burling (A-147), Hawley (A-139)
• Greene – Seward (S-51)
• Hamilton
• Herkimer – Seward S-51, Butler (A-117)
• Jefferson – Ritchie (S-48)
• Lewis – Griffo (S-47)
• Livingston – Gallivan (S-59), Young (S-57), Burling (A-147)
• Madison – Valesky (S-49), Magee (A-111)
• Monroe – Maziarz (S-62), Johns (A-135), Hawley (A-139), Nozzolio (S-54)
• Montgomery – Farley (S-44)
• Nassau – Lavine (A-13), Montessano (A-15)
• New York City – Avella (S-11), Golden (S-22)
• Niagara – Grisanti (S-60), Maziarz (S-62), Schimminger (A-140), Ceretto (A-138), Hawley (A-139), Corwin (A-142)
• Oneida – Griffo (S-47), Valesky (S-49), Magee (A-111), Brindisi (A-116)
• Onondaga – Valesky (S-49), Magnarelli (A-120), Roberts (A-119), Kolb (A-129), Barclay (A-124)
• Ontario – Gallivan (S-59), Kolb (A-129), Nozzolio (S-54)
• Orange – Bonacic (S-42), Carlucci (S-38), Larkin (S-39), Gunther (A-98)
• Orleans – Maziarz (S-62), Hawley (A-139)
• Oswego – Ritchie (S-48), Barclay (A-124)
• Otsego – Seward (S-51), Magee (A-111), Butler (A-117)
• Putnam – Galef (A-90)
• Rensselaer – McDonald (S-43)
• Rockland – Carlucci (S-38), Jaffee (A-95)
• St. Lawrence – Griffo (S-47), Ritchie (S-48)
• Saratoga – McDonald (S-43), Farely (S-44), Tedisco (A-110)
• Schenectady – Farley (S-44), Tedisco (A-110)
• Schoharie – Seward (S-51)
• Schuyler – O’Mara (S-53)
• Seneca – Kolb (A-129), Nozzolio (S-54)
• Steuben – O’Mara (S-53),
• Suffolk – Sweeney (A-11), Thiele (A-2), Boyle (A-8)
• Sullivan – Bonacic (S-42), Gunther (A-98)
• Tioga – Libous (S-52)
• Tompkins – O’Mara (S-53), Seward (S-51), Lifton (A-125), Nozzolio (S-54)
• Ulster – Bonacic (S-42), Larkin (S-39)
• Warren
• Washington
• Wayne – Nozzolio (S-54)
• Westchester – Oppenheimer (S-3), Paulin (A-88), Abinati (A-92), Galef (A-90), Latimer (A-91), Spano (A-93), Castelli (A-89)
• Wyoming – Gallivan (S-59), Burling (S-147)
• Yates – O’Mara (S-53), Palmesano (A-136)