Tuesday, June 7, 2016

NY Senate Adopts Legislation Requiring the State to Fund Mandates

A bill that requires the state to fund any new mandate it imposes on local governments and schools passed the State Senate yesterday and was delivered to the Assembly for consideration.
The measure (S.2295) is sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo (Lewis, Oneida, St. Lawrence counties) and passed the Senate by a wide margin (49-12, unofficially). Griffo is a former Oneida County Executive.

"We applaud Senator Griffo and members of the Senate for passing this legislation in recognition of the burden that state mandates place on municipal and school property taxpayers," said New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) President William E. Cherry, the Schoharie County Treasurer. "Now we ask that members of the Assembly move this measure to the floor for a vote before the end of the session."

Property taxes are the number one fiscal burden for homeowners and businesses, as well as the largest impediment to economic growth and job creation in Upstate New York and Long Island.

The major contributing factor for high property taxes is that the State, as a matter of public policy, uses local property taxes to support a wide variety of state initiatives and public policy goals.

In 2015, nine state mandates consumed 99% of the property taxes levied by counties outside of New York City. For just one program- Medicaid- counties spend $7.4 billion annually, which is more than local governments in any other state contribute to their state's fiscal plan.

"Every time the state enacts a new mandated program, it's often left up to municipalities and school districts to find a way to pay for the new program," Griffo told the Madison County Courier newspaper after his bill passed the Senate. "But, local municipalities and school districts are fiscally-stressed enough, so they should have the freedom to decide what priorities and services they believe are worth funding for their communities, instead of being forced by the state to levy new taxes."

"We thank Senator Griffo and his colleagues who voted in the affirmative on this bill. If we want to address the property tax burden in New York State, then we have to first reform the way we fund state mandated programs and services. This bill is moving us all in the right direction," said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario.