Westchester Legislators Submit 13 Legislative Priorities to State Delegation and Governor

The Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) passed a Resolution outlining a joint package of 13 Legislative items to be submitted through the State Legislative Delegation for consideration by the State Legislature and Governor in the current state legislative session.

The vote took place on Monday February 24th at the regular BOL meeting and was passed by a vote of 17-0 .  The joint legislative package was produced during joint committee meetings of the Legislation Committee, Chaired by Legislator Virginia Perez (D) Yonkers and the Federal & State Affairs Committee, Chaired by Legislator Ken Jenkins (D) Yonkers.

Following the vote, Legislator Perez said, “I’m grateful to my fellow Legislators for their hard work and collaboration in producing this important resolution.  Just as we worked together here at the County level to identify these critical legislative items, I look forward to working with our legislative delegation in Albany to make these proposals reality.”

As Chair of the newly formed Federal & State Affairs Committee, Legislator Ken Jenkins is committed to advocating for Westchester residents both in Albany and Washington.  “Our representatives at the state and federal level are lobbied constantly by special interests and industries.  It is important that Westchester residents and taxpayers have their own lobbyists working on their behalf and that is precisely what my colleagues and I will use this resolution to do.”

The joint legislative package, which is submitted annually, represents measures that Westchester Legislators have identified as being of particular importance or urgency.  As in recent years, most of the legislative items submitted for consideration deal with the overarching issue of unfunded mandates and mandate relief.

One item that addresses mandate relief directly, entitled, “Provide Mandate Relief,” urges the passage by the State Legislature of A.4861/S.1294A, which would require programs that originate from the state to be paid for by the state and not have the burden to find funding fall upon local municipalities.

BOL Vice Chair Jim Maisano (R, New Rochelle, Pelham & Pelham Manor) also serves as Vice-Chair of the Legislation Committee.  The 2014 joint legislative package is his seventeenth since being elected to the BOL.  “As county governments are continually forced to balance budgets despite unfunded state mandates, it is critically important that we push our state legislators to change state law to be fairer to the counties.  My fellow county legislators and I are strongly committed to lobbying our state representatives to put an end to these crushing unfunded mandates and make sure the state properly funds the laws its passes.”

Other mandates addressed throughout the joint legislative package include, Medicaid, Public Assistance Safety Net, Child Welfare Protective and Preventive Care, Special Education Pre-School, Early intervention, Probation, Indigent Defense, Youth Detention and Prisons.

The joint legislative package also calls for the repeal of the MTA payroll tax for municipal governments.  The Resolution states, “Since this payroll tax was established in 2009, Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature have recognized that the payroll tax was ill-conceived and rescinded the tax for school districts and small businesses in the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District, however local governments are still subject to the tax.”

Another proposal that the BOL supports passing in Albany is A.03762/S.00691, which would allow certain not-for-profits to make purchases through the use of county contracts.  Local governments are successfully minimizing costs to taxpayers through the collaborative procurement of goods and services with other local governments.  This legislation will allow not-for-profit corporations similar savings by allowing them to benefit from the economies of scale achieved through county contracts.

BOL Chairman Michael Kaplowitz, (D)  New Castle, Somers, Yorktown, pointed to the efficiency and speed with which the legislative package was produced as evidence that the legislative proposals that it contains are of sufficient importance that a bipartisan group of 17 Legislators were able to agree on these priorities. “I thank my fellow Legislators and committee chairs for working so diligently and thoughtfully on the legislative package that we are now presenting to our colleagues in Albany.  We represent very different constituencies and communities and we have different philosophies about how best to address the needs of our residents but we can all agree that mandate relief and reforms are critical steps in allowing us to provide the services and programs that our residents rely on.”

See the Package of Legislative Proposals Here:  Legislative Package

County Legislator
Jim Maisano