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Guest Column: State Sen. Tom O'Mara
"Albany snapshot: mandate relief"
ALBANY, Jan. 16 -- Interested in a snapshot of some of the important issues being talked about at the Capitol? One way to do that is by scanning the titles of reports being issued from the advocacy groups whose goal it is, day in and day out, year after year, legislative session following legislative session, to set the agenda for New York State government.
example, a quick rundown of currently accessible titles includes the following:
That’s just a short list but it’s a list that serves to highlight one challenge that’s going to dominate attention throughout this new legislative session: mandate relief. When Governor Cuomo unveils his 2012-2013 proposed state budget on Tuesday, a lot of local eyes will be reading to see if it includes specific actions to begin getting local governments and school districts out from under the burden of unfunded state mandates.
The Conference of Mayors once summed up the issue this way: “Local
governments throughout our state are facing an imminent crisis that has
been years in the making. Decades of arbitrary state mandates have accumulated
to trump local control and fiscal logic. These mandates are
Two forces are at play. There is no question that government at every level, including local government, is forced to recognize that overburdened taxpayers demand efficiency and cost effectiveness. At the same time in New York State, there’s an undeniable case being made that the ability of local governments and school districts to undertake restructuring initiatives have run into a currently immovable roadblock of state mandates. While I appreciate the belief that local governments must undertake the budget tightening that last year’s property tax cap imposes, it’s unrealistic for the state to keep believing that local governments can find a way to do it in the face of current state mandates. Indeed, Governor Cuomo in pushing the tax cap last year promised meaningful mandate relief would follow and that the cap would force it.
So this year, despite widespread and deep-rooted economic and fiscal challenges, there’s an opportunity to change course. We’ll all be reading Governor Cuomo’s proposed budget closely for what it might contain in the area of mandate relief. But I’ll also caution that in his recent State of the State message, the governor had very little to say on the topic, namely that “a government that works for the people must make a long-term commitment to fiscal discipline, and this means enacting mandate relief…the Joint Legislative Executive Mandate Relief Council, which will begin work this month, needs to hold public hearings to foster a robust public discussion…then issue a package of recommendations to be voted on this legislative session.”
State of the State messages traditionally serve as a general prologue
of sorts for the more detailed budget documents to come. If that’s
the case, we shouldn’t expect too much on mandate relief in Governor
Cuomo’s proposed budget this week. Then again, this governor hasn’t
been shy about
So we’ve offered the Governor the following as one truly bold move for his budget: begin a state takeover of local Medicaid costs, the largest unfunded state mandate.
It would make a world of difference for local governments and local property taxpayers, to say nothing of the message it would send that New York State is truly serious about long-term, meaningful economic and fiscal reform and responsibility, common sense and security.
That we recognize a bold move when we see it – and are willing to take it.
Photo in text: State Senator Tom O'Mara
Schuyler County Officials
Top row (from left): Dennis Fagan, Thomas Gifford, Doris Karius, Glenn Larison
Bottom row: Michael A. Yuhasz, Barbara Halpin, Phil Barnes, Stewart Field
Dennis Fagan, Tyrone 607-292-3687
Michael A. Yuhasz, 535-4967
Doris L. Karius, 546-5544
Barbara Halpin, 594-3683
Glenn R. Larison, 594-3385
Thomas M. Gifford, 535-9517
Phil Barnes, Watkins Glen 481-0482
Stewart Field, Watkins Glen 535-2335
County Clerk: Linda Compton, 535-8133
Sheriff: William Yessman, 535-8222
Undersheriff: Breck Spaulding, 535-8222
County Treasurer: Margaret Starbuck, 535-8181
District Attorney: Joseph Fazzary, 535-8383
State, Federal Officials for Schuyler County
Sen. Charles E. Schumer
United States Senate
Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand
United States Senate
State Senator Tom O'Mara -- Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Yates, western Tompkins, Enfield, Ithaca (Town and City), Newfield, Ulysses(Trumansburg)
Room 812, Legislative Office Building
Assemblyman Christopher Friend --
Chemung, Schuyler, Tioga
P.O. Box 365
Odessa, New York 14869