The Let NY Work Coalition, a statewide group of education, local governments and business organizations, is calling on state lawmakers not to adopt any new unfunded mandates on schools and municipalities this year. The coalition is launching a grassroots email and phone campaign against unfunded mandates, which it defines as a new requirement or responsibility from the state that doesn’t come with funding specifically earmarked for the program — essentially passing the cost of implementation to taxpayers.
“The end of the legislative session is infamous for last-minute, unfunded mandates,” Timothy Kremer, executive director of the New York State School Boards Association, said in a statement. “In a vacuum, they may well be good policy, but not when judged against the burdens of already struggling schools and local governments.”
Last week, a local coalition of citizens, school districts and municipalities launched a STOP (Stop Taking Our Power) Albany campaign last week, including the Westchester County Association, the Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association, the Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents, the Westchester Municipal Officials Association, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and others.
State mandates at the end of the legislative session are particularly problematic because they come after the state, school districts and municipalities have adopted budgets for the year, according to the Let NY Work Coalition.
The Let NY Work Coalition provides several examples of proposed mandates on schools and/or local governments:
— Make all non-instructional staff — including food service personnel, custodians and bus drivers — eligible for tenure. Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed the bill last year.
— Expand the prevailing wage requirements on construction projects to include services provided by municipal vendors such as law maintenance and repairs for computers and copiers.
— Provide mandatory instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
— Provide employees with up to 16 hours of unpaid leave to attend school conferences and related activities.
— Consider the “cultural and religious home life” of a special-education student when making educational placements. Cuomo vetoed the bill last year.
“Nobody is debating the merits of these bills, but they all come at the expense of programs and services already promised to the community,” Peter Baynes, executive director of the New York Conference of Mayors, said in a statement. “If the state thinks a new proposal is important enough to pass into law, it should be important enough for the state to pay for it.”