January 22, 2012

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Astorino calls for immediate relief on state mandates

WHITE PLAINS – Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino said the county’s ability to provide local services will remain seriously threatened unless Albany takes immediate steps to rein in unfunded mandates.

He said Governor Cuomo was moving in the right direction by starting to focus on mandate relief in his 2012 proposed budget, but that the reforms failed to address the urgency of the situation.

In 2012, nine state mandates, which consume 82 percent of the county’s budget, totaled $449 million of the county’s $548 million tax levy.

Astorino said while Cuomo’s budget targets four mandates for reform – Medicaid, pensions, early intervention and pre-school education – they will cost the county an additional $30 million next year.

Astorino applauded the governor’s effort to address mandate relief, “but counties, cities, villages and school districts need help right now and the help has to feel like help.” He said it is difficult to see how sending Albany an extra $30 million for four mandates means relief. “Every dollar we are forced to send to Albany – to pay their bills – is a dollar less to pay for local services like police, roads, buses and parks for the people of Westchester.”

He said it is time for the state legislature “to deliver some immediate mandate relief to local communities.”

Sheila Marcotte, the vice chairwoman of the county Board of Legislators’ Budget and Appropriations Committee agreed saying that local services were being put at risk by increases in mandate costs.



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