The state Legislature has returned to Albany for the 2019 session. With the new leadership, there will be a variety of new and creative initiatives for the residents of the state. One example of the many proposed initiatives is early voting, which was passed last week (Voting Changes Coming, Jan. 18). Whether you are for or against it, this bill is an example of the financial concerns created by unfunded mandates. Unfunded mandates come from bills passed by the Legislature which place requirements on local governments without allocating funds to help pay for them.
In 2018, 70 percent of Putnam County’s budget was state unfunded mandates, totaling nearly $110 million. Additional costs associated with the early voting are staffing, securing voting locations, printing, counting ballots and securing elections are safe from threats, with an estimated cost to the county of about $300,000.
The county’s operational budget for 2019 has already been enacted. Where will this money come from? The State of New York should supply the funds if it expects local counties to carry out its mandates.
Records show that Democrats and Republicans, over the last several years, have voted for billions in unfunded mandates. The residents voted for change and expect a new era in New York. They want their government to lower taxes and understand the realities that everyday people face. Albany cannot ignore the burdens that unfunded mandates are placing on local governments.
Contact your state assemblyperson and senator and tell them you want unfunded mandate reform and you want the state to pay for the full fiscal impact that will occur with early voting and any other bills that are passed this year.
William Gouldman, Putnam Valley
Gouldman is a Putnam County legislator.
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