Rensselaer, NY, Oct 10, 2012 — The North Country is seeing some tough times in county government, with Essex County facing a $13 million shortfall, and St. Lawrence County projecting a 20 percent property tax increase.
New York State Association of Counties Executive Director Stephen Acquario says counties are caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, counties have to pay for dozens of mandated services, from Medicaid to child welfare, which cost more every year. On the other hand, they now have to keep tax increases within a property tax cap.
Acquario told David Sommerstein the situation leaves counties essentially "governing by triage". Go to full article
Rensselaer, NY, Feb 02, 2012 — Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the "Battle of Albany'' is on.
And in the first skirmish of what's expected to be a long fight, Cuomo is putting the pressure on teachers and their unions.
Speaking yesterday, he said that if negotiations between the unions, the state Education Department and school districts on tougher evaluations for teachers and principals fail, he'll impose his own Feb. 16. Under law, a governor may try to enact policies in budget bills.
The governor spoke at the annual meeting of the state Association of Counties, trying to drum up support for his proposed budget.
The county leaders were pressing for relief from state-mandated costs. Cuomo said he would meet them half way in providing mandate relief by helping to defray health care and future pension costs.
But, as Karen DeWitt reports, he told the county officials it's up to them to do the rest. Go to full article
I think counties would probably love if the state would take over the whole costs for Medicaid. But this is a realistic approach.
Rensselaer, NY, Jan 18, 2012 — Gov. Cuomo now turns his spending plan over to the legislature. Some of Albany's most powerful interests are gearing up for a fight. During the address yesterday, Cuomo again took aim at what he calls the status quo in Albany, demonizing some of its most powerful labor unions.
Cuomo admitted the reforms he envisions will be wrenching, but he said the people will be supportive. He called it "the people's agenda."
North Country representatives were generally supportive yesterday. Martha Foley has reaction to Cuomo's proposals on pension reform, relief for county Medicaid costs, and education. Go to full article
Queensbury, NY, Jan 10, 2011 — It appears that state Sen. Betty Little will play a bigger role in this year's debates in Albany. On Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Little, a Republican, will join his newly created commission tasked with examining unfunded and underfunded mandates imposed by the state.
In a statement, Little said unfunded mandates approved by the state legislature "push the financial burden down to the lowest rung of the ladder."
She joins a group of industry, labor and government officials. The panel was established to identify solutions to ways to reduce local taxes by cutting the costs of state programs they're charged with providing.
Many local government leaders have said that cutting mandates, especially on health care programs, is their top priority in the next session.
A 2% limit on property tax increases was another of Gov. Cuomo's key campaign issues. That could hamstring local governments struggling to balance their own budgets. Local officials said they were happy to hear the property tax cap coupled with mandate reform, but that the devil would be in the details. Emma Jacobs has more for the Innovation Trail. Go to full article
90 percent of the county property tax levy statewide goes to pay for nine state mandated programs
Rensselaer, NY, Nov 09, 2010 — Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo says New York won't be buying its way out of a projected $9 billion dollar deficit next year.
In his first speech since election night, Cuomo told a gathering of New York lawmakers in Puerto Rico they'll have to "get smart" and find other ways to plug the gap.
He campaigned on promises of no personal or corporate tax increases, and he says he's sticking to that promise. Cuomo also wants to cap property taxes. But those taxes are what counties and local governments rely on to fund their budgets, and pay for state-mandated services. Many experts say the tax cap would just be the first step in a long and painful process that would require deep cuts in government spending. Go to full article