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For Release — February 9, 2012

Town and Village Leaders Join Business Community in Support of Mandate Relief
Governor's Plan Would Save Onondaga County Taxpayers $24M Over Five Years

Centerstate Corporation for Economic OpportunitySyracuse, NY — Several Onondaga County town and village leaders joined CenterState CEO and the Committee to Save New York (CSNY), today to announce their support of Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposed mandate relief plan. Governor Cuomo's mandate reform proposals will save Onondaga County taxpayers more than $24 million over the next five years. Additionally, his pension reform proposal will save $1.6 billion over the next 30 years.

Committee to Save NY“Now that the property tax cap is in place, it is imperative that municipalities and school districts be provided significant mandate relief so they can meet the goals of the property tax cap,” said Robert Simpson, CSNY board member and President of CenterState CEO. “Governor Cuomo's plan addresses the burden put on our counties and municipalities. It supports a vibrant private sector that is encouraged to grow in an environment where government is part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

The New York State Association of Counties found that in 2011 unfunded mandates totaled $11 billion, or 16% of the New York State general fund with some counties spending as much as 85% of their budgets on state mandated programs. Without mandate relief, counties have two options: increase sales taxes or cut funding for programs like primary education.

In Onondaga County mandated costs have increased by 75% since 2009, this has real impact on towns and villages.

“Communities across our state are burdened by high taxes, unfunded mandates and no relief,” said Mayor Richard Donovan, Village of Minoa. “I stand with the Committee to Save New York and I commend Governor Cuomo on his mandate relief proposals. These changes have the potential to save municipalities across this region and state, billions of dollars in years to come preventing cuts in essential services local governments provide.”

In addition to mandate relief, Governor Cuomo's 2012 Executive Budget proposes a Tier VI Pension Plan that would save the state $123 billion over the next 30 years. Currently, taxpayers in the Empire State pay on average $574 each year to help cover the cost of public pensions. New York's public pension tax burden is the second most costly in the nation, trailing only Alaska who benefits from rich oil and minerals deposits.

Independent analysis by the Citizens Budget Commission shows the mandatory contributions by the State for public pensions increased 300 percent since 2004, totaling $1.5 billion last year. By 2014, the State requirement is expected to reach $2 billion, accounting for more than ten percent of State operations.  

“At a time when private sector employees are seeing their benefits slashed and municipalities are cutting services, New York's businesses and taxpayers simply cannot afford to pay for these overly generous benefits programs,” said Heather Briccetti, CSNY board member and President & CEO of the Business Council of New York State . “Without reforms, school districts and local government will be forced to raise taxes, cut services and eliminate jobs just to pay for escalating pension costs. We can avoid those problems tomorrow with sensible reforms today.”

 “The legacy costs of pension and retiree healthcare are ravaging local government and school tax levies at increasing rates,” said John Salisbury, Town of Lysander Supervisor. “The current model is unsustainable. I stand with the Committee to Save New York and fully support Governor Cuomo's proposed changes to the retirement system. Our local governments and school districts need this relief.

Governor Cuomo's Tier VI Pension Plan would establish a new benefits system for future employees offering them the option to participate in either a traditional, but less generous, plan or a 401-k type program that is more flexible and permits for career growth. No current workers would lose their pensions, and all reforms would only impact pensions for public employees who have not been hired yet.

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About the Committee to Save New York
Founded in 2011, at a time when the State was facing a $10 billion deficit, businesses were fleeing and unemployment was growing. CSNY is dedicated to restoring fiscal sanity to state government in order to ensure that future generations of New Yorkers will have the opportunity to get a great education, find a good job or start a new business and prosper.

About CenterState CEO
Based in Syracuse, the CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity is a twelve-county business leadership and economic development organization. A private, not-for-profit organization, CenterState CEO represents more than 2,000 members and serves as the region's primary economic, community and business development catalyst. CenterState CEO works to achieve regional growth and total community prosperity through partnerships, planning and problem solving.

The Business Council of New York State, Inc., is the premier business organization in New York State, representing the interests of large and small firms throughout the state.

All told, our members employ more than 1.2 million New Yorkers. We serve as an advocate for employers in the state political and policy-making arena, working for a healthier business climate, economic growth, and jobs.