The Rockland County Legislature unanimously passed a resolution introduced by Legislator Ed Day (New City-Pomona) at its May 15th meeting to urge the State’s Mandate Relief Council to take swift action to submit a package of mandate relief proposals to Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature that would be voted on by the State Legislature during the 2012 State Legislative session. New York State depends on local governments to provide essential services to residents such as Medicaid, pension programs, early intervention and preschool special education programs, as well as other social service programs. However, the costs of these programs, many of which are not reimbursed, are burdensome to local governments.
The Governor’s Mandate Relief Council, created via Executive Order #6 on January 5th, 2011, is an eleven-member Executive and Legislative council charged with reviewing and advancing proposals to reduce the statutory and regulatory burden on local governments and school districts. The Council held a number of hearings throughout the state; produced a smattering of reports; and the Governor announced “new goals” for the Council this January. With the growing assessment of many that, to date, the Council’s efforts have been “underwhelming”, counties are banding together in order to bring focus and action on this critical matter affecting local taxpayers.
“We are painfully aware of the problem with the existing scenario with Counties increasingly having trouble coming up with ways to pay for such services,” said Legislator Day. “We have had to cut our own Rockland based programs, such as highways, law enforcement and senior services, in order to fund these mandates. The State must get past lip service and immediately address mandates such as Medicaid, where local share tax dollars are nearly seven times the second largest State’s contribution rate. That is an unsustainable model that will cripple us sooner rather than later.”
Day’s resolution also declared May 15th as “May Day for Mandate Relief Day”, an initiative similarly recognized by several other counties throughout the state. Day added, “The goal of “May Day for Mandate Relief” is to get thousands of residents discussing these state unfunded mandates, to demonstrate that the decisions made in Albany have a direct impact on the local tax levies and community services and to encourage the State Legislature to act on the council’s proposals before they break for the summer in June. It has been nearly a year and a half of talk; it is past the time for action.”