Mandate Relief Information and Resources

When Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law new tax cap legislation in 2010, he also called for meaningful mandate reform.  Since that time, school districts and municipalities throughout New York State have advocated for serious mandate relief to alleviate the growing tax burden on state residents.

Click here to view a printable brochure on mandates and mandate relief published by Capital Region BOCES and Questar III.

Let NY Work, a coalition of organizations advocating for relief, cites six areas for mandate reform that could mean significant savings for school districts and thus for property taxpayers: 

Pension system reform
New York State Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and New York State Employees Retirement System (ERS) funds come from three sources: employee contributions, investment income and employer contributions.  Eighty-three percent of the retirements funds come from returns on investment.  As a result of the downturn in the economy, the retirement funds have seen reduced income from investments.  Since employee contributions are currently limited by state law and employee tier membership, the revenue shortfall from investments must be made through employer contributions.  In his presentation of the 2013 Executive budget, Governor Cuomo predicted a 185 percent increase in pension costs between 2009 and 2015.

For additional information on pension reform visit:
The Pew Center
The Empire Center
The Statewide School Finance Consortium
Public Employee Pension in NYS (Published by Capital Region BOCES and Questar III)

Arbitration regulations
The Public Employees’ Fair Employment Act, commonly referred to as the Taylor Law, was passed in 1967 during the administration of Governor Nelson Rockefeller.  The law was designed as a compromise between union leadership and state government to facilitate the continuation of necessary services provided by state and local government employees. The act guarantees collective bargaining rights of public employee unions while preventing public employees from going on strike.  The arbitration regulations create an undo expense on school districts.

For additional information on the Taylor law visit:
The New York Council of Mayors
The Monroe County School Boards Association

Freeze step increases when contracts expire
The Triborough Amendment to the Taylor Law forces school districts to maintain the current provisions of an expired labor agreement until a new contract has been signed.  This amendment requires automatic step increases where salary step schedules exist.  In addition, it maintains existing contribution levels for health insurance premiums.  The Triborough Amendment limits the ability of school districts to control costs in employee wages and benefits while contract negotiations are ongoing.  This forces districts to limit spending on wages and benefits through staffing reductions.

For more information on the Triborough Amendment visit:
The Statewide School Finance Consortium
The Empire Center
The Albany Government Law Review

Reduce the costs of construction projects
The Wicks laws, which originated in 1912 to prevent corruption in public building contracts, requires school districts hire a general contractor and separate contractors for heating, plumbing and electrical work on all projects greater than $50,000.  These requirements increase the costs of building projects. 

For additional information on the Wicks laws visit:  
The Business Review
The New York Council of Mayors

Establish minimum health insurance contribution level for employees and retirees
Health care costs have doubled in the last decade.  Private companies have offset these price increases by raising  employee contributions for their health care plans.  Union contracts have prevented school districts from offsetting these incredible increases in insurance premiums.  By establishing a minimum health insurance contribution level, school districts can minimize the impact of those increases on district taxpayers.

For additional information on the rising costs of healthcare visit:
The Statewide School Finance Consortium
The New York State Commission on Local Government Efficiency & Competitiveness

Prohibit new unfunded mandates
New York State government continues to enact legislation that requires school districts and municipalities to provide services or take actions that cost significant amounts of money without providing school districts with additional funds to offset the costs of these requirements.  Enacting reform legislation which prevents unfunded mandates would limit additional tax burdens on property owners.

For additional information on unfunded mandates visit:

Mandates and Mandate Relief (a publication of Capital Region BOCES and Questar III) - Posted April 10, 2012
NYS Mandate Relief Committee
The Office of the Governor
The New York Council of Mayors