In nearly every county of New York, most locally raised revenues are spent on state and federal mandates. A mandate occurs when the State or Federal government directs a county to:
- Implement a state/federally defined and controlled program or provide a service (Medicaid, welfare, child support collections, etc.);
- Meet an environmental, labor or other state/federal standard;
- Construct/upgrade a facility (courthouse, jail, etc.) subject to prevailing wage and Wick’s Law requirements; or
- Provide a tax break or exemption to non-profits, select groups, etc; or limit growth in the property tax levy. In a typical county anywhere from 15% to 30% of the value of all property is exempt from property taxes under state law.
These state and federal mandates usually come in two forms: unfunded and partially funded. Very seldom is a state-imposed mandate fully funded.
Meet the Mandates
This NYSAC report quantifies how much in locally raised county taxes are sent to Albany each year that are used by the Governor and State Legislature to pay for state designed and controlled programs. Funds that are not even acknowledged in the state budget even though they are spent in support of state programs.
We highlight just a few major programs that counties across the country generally do not pay for but counties in New York do. Our outlier status with the rest of the nation is a primary reason for New York’s highest in the nation state and local tax burden. It is also a key contributor to the “affordability” crisis state elected leaders have been so vocal about the last couple of years but fail to recognize or fix.
The State of State Mandates
This NYSAC report provides a nearly 100-year history of major mandates in New York State beginning with FDR’s time as governor of New York through today. Small programs added gradually grew enormously large. The county costs for Medicaid grew from $20 million in 1966 to $7.6 billion today.
Regulatory and statutory changes over the decades added new costs and changed how county government operated.