The New York State Association of Counties recently released a report seeking widespread relief from state mandates, asking for strings to be cut on everything from the placement of pre-school children in special education to the state absoring the local costs of Medicaid.
The 20-page report, A Roadmap To Mandate Relief: How The State Can Reduce Property Taxes, offers suggested reforms freeing New York’s 57 counties and New York City from the burden of “unfunded mandates,” which essentially require counties to use local tax dollars to pay for the administration of state programs. The group’s report said counties must currently comply with 40 mandates, which the group has estimated to account for 90 cents of every local property tax dollar.
“This report identi es major mandates under several key program areas, and offers legislative or regulatory solutions to each mandate in order to lighten the burden on the homeowners and businesses that pay county property taxes,” the authors wrote.
Among the suggestions:
- The state should absorb the $7.5 billion that counties and New York City pay for Medicaid, using in part $3 billion of anticipated savings from changes related to the federal Affordable Care Act.
- Allow counties greater input on the placement and transportation for preschool special education children for which counties pay $637 million a year.
- In the Safety Net program – a $997 million expense for counties – allow sanctions to be levied against entire families in instances where the head of household fails to satisfy work requirements. Also, reduce counties’ funding share for the program from 71 percent to 50 percent.
- To deal with counties’ $900 million in pension costs (not including New York City), counties should be allowed to borrow directly from the marketplace to cover amortized pension costs, instead of going through the state Comptroller’s Office. Some counties have high credit ratings than the state, the group said, and could save tens of millions of dollars in borrowing costs.
The counties’ group also offered suggestions on ways to streamline and lower the costs of child welfare investigations, indigent defense payments, community college funding and other areas. Read the full report below and sound off in the comments with your thoughts on mandates and potential savings.