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Mandate Relief is a High Priority for County Execs

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State-of-the-State speech Wednesday did not directly speak to unfunded mandates. Some county executives say that although mandate relief is important and very much needed, they did not expect the governor to talk about it. However, at least one did.

According to the New York State Association of Counties, nine, unfunded state mandates consume 90 percent of the property-tax levy. Here’s Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino:

Here’s Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro:

Yet Westchester’s Astorino was waiting for mention of unfunded mandates in the governor’s speech.

Stephen Acquario is the executive director of the New York State Association of Counties, or NYSAC. He was not surprised at the governor did not mention unfunded mandates in the speech, but will look to the state budget for some answers.

The Governor did propose the creation of a Financial Restructuring Assistance Program to offer advice to counties, cities, towns and villages to help restructure their finances. The program would be run by a joint Task Force consisting of the state Comptroller, state Attorney General, Division of Budget, and private-sector restructuring consultants. NYSAC’s Acquario says he was not briefed on this proposal, and was thus surprised when he heard mention of it in the governor’s speech. He says many cities are borderline bankrupt, like Syracuse and Yonkers, and the proposed task force could be helpful to them.

Westchester’s Rob Astorino has a different take on the proposed Financial Assistance Restructuring Program.

Democratic Ulster County Executive Mike Hein says Governor Cuomo has worked on the issue, and offered some mandate relief, such as regarding Medicaid spending.

All say the issue is a non-partisan one, and most say there has been recognition on the state level of the growing problem of unfunded mandates.

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