North Country lawmakers say New York needs to enact serious mandate relief in order to relieve stress on local governments and taxpayers.
Republican Assemblywomen Teresa Sayward and Janet Duprey said Monday that unfunded mandates lead to increased taxes for municipalities and school districts - while also eliminating important local services.
Sayward says state mandated programs take up a massive percentage of local taxes, noting that left untouched, they can lead to the elimination of vital services like road repairs, safety patrols, and even community colleges.
During a press conference in Albany, Sayward and other Assembly Republicans laid out a plan to significantly reduce costs for local governments, school districts and taxpayers.
Sayward, who formerly served as chair of the Essex County Board of Supervisors, says she understands how difficult it will be to put together a budget that meets a hard cap.
"Without mandate relief, we're going to lose services - services that people don't think about as being non-mandate that the taxpayers have to pick up," she said. "Our highways, our bridges, our community colleges - I dare say we're going to lose some of our community colleges. There are so many things we are going to lose if we have to meet this hard cap. We continue to work here in Albany trying to push mandate relief, we have a few days left and we've rolled up our sleeves and we're going to try and get it done."
Duprey says a property tax cap without mandate relief carries heavy consequences.
"Our schools certainly have done a good job of getting out their concerns for not having mandate relief," she said. "It was to come as a package; one without the other doesn't work. I hope that in these last few hours and days of session, that the governor and the majority and the Senate get the message and we're able to provide a good product for the taxpayers."
Sayward says there is still time take "decisive and effective" action to reduce the burden of unfunded mandates.
She adds that she supports enacting a property tax cap, but says it won't work without mandate relief.