Politicians Call on New York for Mandate Relief

BY MICHAEL CAHILL

Republican candidate for New York State Senate, Janis Castaldi joined Rockland County Legislator Ed Day on the steps of the Rockland County Court House Monday morning to show her support for mandate relief in New York.

Castaldi is former a Deputy Mayor and Village Trustee of Ossining. This election season she is challenging incumbent David Carlucci in New York’s new 38th State Senate District, which includes, New City, Clarkstown, Ramapo, and Orangetown in Rockland County, and Ossining in Westchester County.

The citizen advocacy group, Best4NY, organized the press conference, and Howland Robinson, an executive committee member for the group, joined the two politicians.

Best4NY advocates mandate relief at the state level as a way to control taxes. According to its website, the group defines mandates as laws passed by the state that force local municipalities to pay for something.

For example, the state says that school districts must provide services X, Y, and Z. Those services are good for the students, and it is hard to argue against them. But at the same time that the state says districts must provide these services, it provides no money to help finance them.

This means the state is essentially shifting the cost of its good intentions onto local municipalities and school districts. So without money from the state to help implement these new programs, which are now required by law, municipalities must raise taxes to pay for them.

However when it comes to raising taxes these municipalities run into New York State’s new 2 percent tax levy cap. If the new costs are more than what they can raise in new taxes, local governments can either override the cap with a vote or cut other services to pay for these mandates.

Best4NY says that through this process, these unfunded mandates are hurting small towns in New York and causing unemployment.

At Monday’s press conference Howland cited a report by the New York State School Boards Association. The report found that unfunded mandates are a major stress factor for New York school districts statewide.

Earlier this year, members of the North Rockland Central School District School Board bemoaned the influx of unfunded mandates from the state, as a major, though not the only, financial stress factor for the district.

In May the district did pass a budget staying under the tax levy cap, and meeting its mandate requirements. However in order to do so the district enacted a transformation program that closed two schools.

At the press conference Castaldi threw her support behind Best4NY saying, “Taxpayers have had enough empty promises from their representatives. We need to make some difficult choices in order to put New York back on solid fiscal footing.”

Legislator Day also voiced his support for the group saying that if New York State is going to require a 2 percent tax levy cap, and then they also need to have a two percent cap on the costs of these mandates.

For more information about state mandates, and mandate relief visit best4ny.org.