Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

For Release — May 12, 1999


ALBANY, N.Y.—The Coalition for Mandate Reform has concluded its information-gathering on the state's most onerous mandates on local governments and school districts and is preparing a report on the mandate problem in New York State.

"We're learning a great deal about state mandates on local governments and school districts and how they waste taxpayer dollars," said Denise Murphy McGraw, director of regional affairs for The Business Council and coordinator of The Council's participation in the coalition.

"The next step is to get comments and suggestions on our draft report from participating business groups around the state so we can hone the final version," she added. The final report will be written and released by The Public Policy Institute of New York State, the research affiliate of The Business Council.

Among the mandates most frequently cited by roundtable participants are: civil service rules on hiring and firing of municipal employees; the civil service law requiring municipalities to submit to binding arbitration in labor impasses with police and firefighters' unions; the Wicks Law, which forces public entities to use multiple contractors on public construction projects with estimated costs of at least $50,000; and education requirements governing special education and transportation of students.

The mandate-reform roundtables began last November after The Council and 30 local business groups formed the Coalition for Mandate Reform. The coalition's goals were to identify the most troublesome mandates through discussions with local business and government leaders, to develop a report documenting the problem, and then to develop and advocate a legislative agenda for comprehensive mandate reform.

After The Public Policy Institute releases its report, The Business Council and participating local business groups, local government leaders, and local school district officials will collaborate to develop and advocate for comprehensive mandate-reform legislative agenda, McGraw added.

The Coalition for Mandate Reform was created last fall after The Public Policy Institute reported that the high cost of local government -- driven in part by state mandates -- is now New York State's largest remaining competitive disadvantage.

That report, entitled The Comeback Trail: 1998, showed that property taxes in New York total $8 billion a year more than they would be if the state matched the national average per capita. Taxpayers in the New York City suburbs pay property taxes that are almost three times the national average, on a per-capita basis.

The report also showed that taxpayers in key upstate counties such as Monroe, Onondaga, Schenectady, Erie and Broome counties pay property taxes that are about double the per-capita property taxes in such key competitor states as Ohio, Michigan, Georgia and North Carolina.

The Business Council is New York's largest broad-based business group, representing some 4,000 member companies large and small across the state. Based in Albany, it lobbies for a better business climate, and offers cost-cutting services to its members.

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Local chambers of commerce and employer associations that helped organize and conduct "mandate reform roundtables" since October 1998 are:

Adirondack Regional Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Jim Berg, 518/798-1761)
Broome County Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Stacey Rahn, 607/772-8860)
Buffalo-Niagara Partnership (Contact: Dr. Andrew Rudnick, 716/852-7100)
Chamber of Commerce of Orange County (Contact: John D'Ambrosio, 914/562-5100)
Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Pam Lydic, 716/366-6200)
Cheektowaga Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Bill Scarafia, 716/684-5838)
County Chamber (Westchester) (Contact: Harold Vogt, 914/948-2110)
Eastern Niagara Chamber of Commerce (Contact: David Kinyon, 716/433-3828)
Genesee County Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Ray San Fratello, 716/343-7440)
Grand Island Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Peter Jehrio, 716/773-3651)
Greater Rochester Metro Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Jean Kase, 716/263-3557)
Greater Sourn Dutchess Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Beth Coleman, 914/897-2067)
Greater East Aurora Chamber of Commerce (Conctact: Gary Grote, 716/652-8444)
Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Deb Warner, 315/470-1800)
Greece Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Ralph De Stephano, 716/227-7272)
Hamburg Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Betty Newell, 716/649-7917)
Livingston County Chamber of Commerce: (Contact: Steve Newvine, 716/243-4160)
Long Island Association (Contact: Amy Engel, 516/475-4121)
Niagara Falls Area Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Fred Caso, 716/285-9141)
Niagara Business Alliance (Contact: Scott Whitbeck, 716/439-4806)
Orchard Park Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Nancy Conley, 716/662-3366)
Otsego County Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Rob Robinson, 607/432-4500)
Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber (Contact: Garry Douglas, 518/563-1028)
Poughkeepsie Area Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Jack Tarleton, 914/454-1700)
West Seneca Chamber of Commerce (Contact: Carol Dill, 716/674-4900)