Updated 10/02/2012 09:23 PM
Unfunded mandates forum
"Doing less with less" was part of the message for local and state leaders at a forum at the Rockefeller Institute of Government Public Policy in Albany. The topic of discussion? Unfunded mandates and how they affect local governments. Our Erin Vannella was there and tells us more.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- "With the increase cost in state mandates exceeding the amount that we can raise in property taxes with the two percent tax, we're having to cut local services," said Rensselaer County Executive Republican Kathy Jimino.
Enough is enough say New York's county leaders. They say unfunded state mandates are crippling local economies by requiring services that the government is not providing money to help pay for.
"We have had layoffs in each of the last three years and we've had program cuts," said Jimino. "Last year, we had proposed some pretty draconian cuts in terms of senior services and in terms of veterans services."
It's a statewide problem that leaders on the local and state level discussed in open forum in Albany Tuesday. Cuomo's cap on Medicaid costs and pension system reforms, many said, aren't enough.
"I think what we're looking for is to be more efficient and more flexible when it comes to rules and regulations and requirements that we put on local government and school districts," said 43rd Senate District Republican Betty Little.
"I feel like our decision-making ability has been almost taken away from us and all we're doing is implementing someone else's priorities using local resources," said New York State School Board Association Executive Director Timothy Kremer.
But while talking about it may bring some peace of mind, local leaders demand movement with everything from education to pension plans hanging in the balance.
"We need them to understand why it is that we continue to ask for relief from these mandates from the state and that we are at the same time finding those economies of scale at the local level trimming those costs, holding the line where we can," said Jimino. "We recognize that the bottom line is our taxpayers cannot afford to pay more particularly when the economy remains rather bleak."