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Assemblyman (R, C – Goldens Bridge) hosted close to 30 local business, education and industry leaders at a forum at the Harrison Town Hall Monday to discuss the continued need to deliver unfunded mandate relief to local governments, school districts and taxpayers, along with the urgency of creating more private-sector jobs in the Lower Hudson Valley.
“Westchester County taxpayers are tired of paying the highest property taxes in the nation, and a full 90 cents of every county property tax dollar goes to Albany to fund state mandates,” Castelli said. “I am pleased to join with local taxpayers and business leaders to say ‘enough is enough’ to Albany’s practice of forcing Westchester County taxpayers to foot the bill for state government mandates.”
Unfunded mandates occur whenever state government tells local governments and school districts to do something, such as implement a new program, expand a service or even build a new school, yet provides zero funding to pay for it. New York’s largest unfunded mandate on municipalities each year is Medicaid spending, which has an $8 billion price tag in the current Fiscal Year. New York’s combined federal, state and local spending on Medicaid is the highest in the nation at $54 billion; the Empire State spent more than California and Florida combined.
“We gathered business and community leaders at the Harrison Town Hall today to ask them three important questions: Should New York institute a state spending cap? Should there be a moratorium on unfunded mandates on local governments and school districts costing more than $10,000 annually or $1 million statewide? And how can we support local businesses so they can create and retain quality jobs in our communities? I look forward to taking their ideas and concerns to Albany to fight for lower taxes, unfunded mandate relief and a better business environment in the Westchester,” Castelli said.
Participants discussed strategies to deliver unfunded mandate relief as well as create and maintain private- sector jobs in the Lower Hudson Valley.
The Steering Committee, a public policy vehicle for the New York State Assembly Minority Conference, is a strong voice for private-sector job creators and improving New York's business climate.
The Conference’s “Taxpayer Protection and Mandate Relief Act” (A.8447, Kolb) would cap state spending, prohibit any new unfunded mandates on local governments and school districts and require the Governor to submit an annual plan to repeal unfunded mandates.
“Unfunded mandates and runaway cost increases in state spending result in the same thing—higher taxes and fees for our small business owners,” said Assemblywoman Jane Corwin (R, C, I – Clarence), chair of the Steering Committee. “The Westchester business owners we spoke with today gave us valuable feedback on the most efficient, effective ways to help them create more jobs, right now.”
Forum participants included John Ravitz, Executive Vice President of the Business Council of Westchester, Sergio Brasesco of , Amy Allen and Dorothy Forcina of the Westchester County Association, Alexander Roberts of Community Housing Innovations Inc., Mark Jaffe, Presdient/CEO of the Greater New York Chamber of commerce, Michael Schiliro, Vice President of CMS Bank, Norm Michaels, President of Michaels & Assocites, Deborah Patterson of Con Edison, and Mary Ann Luna of the United Way of Westchester and Putnam.