A Push for
Mandate Relief in New York State
NYSCOSS coalition's five-point program offers mandate
remedies to state legislature
10, 2012 - Mandate relief is essential to the survival of school
districts in New York State. Without relief, school districts
grappling with contractual obligations, the limits of the
two-percent tax cap levy and rising health insurance and pension
costs will not be able to adequately fund their academic
coalition, Let NY Work: A Common Agenda for the Common
Good, has developed a five-point program focusing on mandate
relief from the state Legislature. The group is comprised of the
New York State Council of School Superintendents and a coalition
of business, local government and educational organizations to
address the impact of unfunded state mandates, particularly on
low-wealth, high-need school districts and school budgets.
About 70 to 80 percent of the budget in most districts is
dedicated to salaries and benefits, leaving little room for
expanding academic programs.
“As a result, high-needs, low-wealth districts, many of which
are rural, are facing academic insolvency,” says Robert Reidy,
Jr., executive director of the New York State Council of School
Superintendents (NYSCSS). “There have already been thousands of
job cuts in education over the last few years and districts are
becoming less able to provide quality offerings to educate
children under this cap.”
Let NY Work: A Common Agenda for the Common Good was
formed to fight back. Because school district
budgets are heavily burdened by unfunded state mandates, the
group emphasizes mandate relief in its advocacy efforts with the
The coalition’s five-point program asks:
That compulsory arbitration is redefined to add transparency
and accountability to the process.
That step increases be frozen when contracts expire.
That the costs of construction on public/private projects be
reduced through passage of the Public Construction Savings Act.
For establishment of minimum health insurance contributions
for employees and retirees.
For passage of the Unfunded Mandate Reform Act that would
require a super-majority, or three-fifths of legislators, to
enact new unfunded mandates.
Reidy adds, “Something has to change. We will not survive with
‘business as usual’. And we can’t cut our way out of this
Let NY Work: A Common Agenda for the Common Good (pdf)