WHITE PLAINS, NY — — STOP Albany, a grassroots coalition of Westchester citizens, schools, businesses and local governments, is calling for the New York State Assembly to take immediate action on a bi-partisan bill, A4861, which stops future unfunded mandates and requires the state to fund any new program imposed on local governments and schools. To help stop the mandate madness, STOP Albany asks each member of the Westchester delegation in the Assembly to sponsor the bill, which has already passed the Senate, and to help bring it to a vote by the end of session on Thursday, June 20th.
Currently, no Assembly members from the Westchester delegation have signed on to sponsor the legislation to end future unfunded mandates. For the legislation to be voted on in the Assembly, it must be approved by committee today.
“The Assembly has an opportunity this week to start fixing the problem,” said County Executive Robert P. Astorino. “When 85 cents of every property tax dollar collected by Westchester County is sent straight up the Thruway to Albany, it’s clear the system is broken. I thank our Senators for the progress on their promise to provide relief from unfunded mandates. But, it takes action to complete the job, and for that the members of the Assembly need to approve this vital legislation.”
“Each year that passes without action is another year that districts must cut programs with proven value and meaning to students in order to balance the budget,” said Lisa Davis, executive director of the Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association. “Local school districts are being forced to make cuts that are detrimental to the education and development of our children, and these cuts will continue to mount if the Assembly does not vote to end future unfunded mandates.”
“With governors from other states recruiting our businesses to move, Albany must take positive action against the mandated costs that cause sky-high local taxes and sharp cuts in services and our educational system,” said William M. Mooney, Jr., president of the Westchester County Association. “The reason businesses and residents come to Westchester is because of those high-quality services. The time has come for the Assembly to take action that will help preserve the high quality of our schools as well as the services provided by local governments.”
Last week, the legislation to end future unfunded mandates passed the Senate with bi-partisan support from the Westchester delegation, including Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers), who announced the bill’s passage, and Senator Greg Ball (R-Patterson), who co-sponsored the bill.
STOP Albany scheduled a June 14th meeting with the Westchester delegation to discuss action on this bill, but the delegation cancelled due to time constraints. The delegation has promised to reschedule the meeting in the near future. Westchester’s Assembly delegation includes Assemblymembers Thomas Abinanti (D-Greenburgh), David Buchwald (D-White Plains), Sandy Galef (D-Ossining), Steve Katz (R-Mohegan Lake), Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), Steven Otis (D-Rye), Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), and Gary Pretlow (D-Yonkers).
The STOP Albany coalition includes the Westchester County Association; Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino; the Westchester-Putnam School Boards Association; the The Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents; the Westchester-East Putnam Regional PTA; and the Westchester Municipal Officials Association. In May, STOP Albany launched a grassroots campaign to send a simple yet strong message to Albany: “Stop Taking Our Power.”
New Yorkers are encouraged to make their voices heard simply by visiting STOPAlbany.com and clicking to send a letter to their state representatives.