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September 20, 2012

Cuomo keeps ducking comprehensive mandate relief

E.J. McMahon

Asked what the state might do to help fiscally distressed upstate cities, Governor Cuomo today said his administration was “looking at various approaches to help cities more on an individual basis than on a collective basis.”

That would seem to indicate the governor will continue to avoid taking a position on comprehensive reforms favored by a broad cross-section of municipal officials, such as repeal or modification of the state law giving police and fire unions the option to seek binding arbitration of their contracts.  He can’t duck this question indefinitely, though, because the arbitration provision sunsets next June 30.  That means the law cannot be extended without his signature.

Other potential comprehensive mandate relief reforms ignored by the governor include repeal of the Triborough amendment and the establishment of a statewide floor under public employee contributions to health insurance plans, as was recommended four years ago by a local government efficiency commission headed by Mario Cuomo’s former lieutenant governor, Stan Lundine, whom no one would confuse with Scott Walker.

Since the state has no spare cash, any “individual” help Cuomo provides to local governments seems likely to be token or gimmicky, like the spin-up of AIM funds this year.

1 Comment »

  1. [...] All NYS Senators and Assemblymen are up for re-election in November.   While federal elections draw most voters’ attention, much is at stake for the future of New York State.   The silence from Albany, i.e. its failure to provide any immediate mandate relief, as compared to all of the political noise emanating from Washington, D.C., reflects the wishes of a majority of the NYS Legislature to maintain the status quo of spending increases far higher than the 2% tax cap.  Imagine you have a credit card account with a spending limit on your card, but your neighbor has a card on your account with no spending limit that you have to pay for.    The result is that you spend less and less on yourself in order to pay for his escalating charges.   That’s the mandate problem - the Legislature forcing local cuts to pay for uncontrolled increases in its own state spending.    And the pension reform legislation which passed last spring did not provide meaningful immediate help to local elected mayors, supervisors, legislators, board members who desperately want mandate relief for county, school, and town budgets.   And Governor Cuomo seems to have lost his will to reform the unfunded mandate status quo. [...]


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