Press Release from NYSAC
The New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC) on Monday presented testimony on the county impact of the 2013-14 State Budget to a Local Government Hearing of the New York State Legislature.
While there are no new state resources set aside to ease the financial burden of state mandates imposed on county tax payers in the proposed State budget, Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to recognize the fiscal pressures on counties, and has provided some tools to help stabilize the costs imposed on local governments.
“This budget builds on the long term mandate relief achievements of the last two years, but counties need some shorter term relief,” said NYSAC President Edward A. Diana, the Orange County Executive.
The governor’s budget proposal continues to implement a zero percent growth cap in county Medicaid costs effective in 2015, and sets aside $100 million in this budget. In addition, the Governor’s budget is proposing changes that may help ease county budget pressures including:
· Allowing counties an option to modify how they fund state mandated pension contributions
· Providing counties more audit authority in the special education preschool program
· Improving government efficiency and streamlining state and local legislative operations by removing the need for counties to pursue home rule legislative requests every two years with the state legislature in order to extend current local sales tax authority
· Reducing administrative and reporting requirements for counties under Article 6 public health programs
· Reforming the Workers Compensation system
· Renewing Binding Arbitration, which is scheduled to sunset in June 2013, with a new definition of “ability to pay” for municipalities under fiscal distress, making it subject to the property tax cap (does not apply to NYC) where “ability to pay” will be defined as no more than 2 percent growth in the contract.
These new initiatives in the proposed budget, in conjunction with no significant cost shifts and the important reforms enacted in last year’s budget, will help reduce budget pressures for counties.
“Recent state budgets advanced by the Governor and approved by the Legislature have improved the long term picture for counties, but in the short term counties have a deep hole to climb out of. Recent mandate relief efforts provide a ladder, but it just is not long enough to get us out of the hole that the recession, decades of State mandates and cost shifts have put us in,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen J. Acquario.
The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving the counties of New York State including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate and advocate for Member Counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public.