State Senator Patty Ritchie joined the statewide Mandate Relief Council, meeting today (March 8) in Watertown, to hear ideas for saving tax dollars by cutting more of the punishing unfunded mandates imposed by Albany on local communities.
Senator Ritchie was among the panelists on the Council, which she voted to create last year as part of a new law that delivered over $125 million in savings by repealing several outdated mandates.
“When we talk about unfunded mandates, we are really talking about Albany passing the buck to local taxpayers,” Senator Ritchie told members of the panel, which was chaired by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.
“I’m pleased that we have made more progress in the last year in tackling this problem head-on than in many prior years combined,” Senator Ritchie said, referring to the deleted mandates, as well as efforts to rein in soaring Medicaid costs, a share of which are borne by local taxpayers.
Senator Ritchie also presented her fellow panel members, including members of the Senate and Assembly, as well as representatives of Gov. Cuomo’s cabinet, with copies of two mandate relief reports prepared by her Mandate Relief Working Group, comprising local officials who have been searching for ways to save money by repealing mandates.
“These two reports include more than two dozen proposals, all good and solid. But they are just a start,” she said.
The statewide Council, meeting for the seventh time, accepted testimony today from a Who’s Who of local government leaders, including:
William D. Nelson, Mayor of Ogdensburg
Sallie A. Brothers, Chair, St. Lawrence County Board of Legislators
David Pendergast, Lewis County Manager
Laura Cerow, Jefferson County Social Services Commissioner
Roger J. Ambrose, Jefferson County Director of Community Services
Stephen Lee, Deputy Supervisor, Town of Hounsfield
James R. Eves, Mayor of Dexter
Leon Heagle, Mayor of Parish
Terry Fralick, Superintendent, Watertown City Schools
David Valois, Deputy Superintendent, Ogdensburg Schools