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Sen. Griffo gains support for mandate relief

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POTSDAM - A proposal by Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, to bring real mandate relief to localities across the state is picking up support from his north country colleagues.

“It’s more than just talk,” Mr. Griffo said.

In particular, the bill would place a moratorium on existing mandates from the state until they are reviewed, and would require any new mandates be paid for by the state.

Mr. Griffo said the 2 percent property tax cap, enacted in 2011, was a step in the right direction, but local governments need mandate relief in order to stay solvent.

“This idea puts forth a plan so people can understand and then follow it,” Mr. Griffo said.

And Mr. Griffo said he believes the bill will get support.

“I absolutely support the bill,” said Assemblyman Kenneth J. Blankenbush, R-Black River.

Mr. Blankenbush said Assembly Republicans introduced similar legislation last year that failed to make it out of committee.

“We never did get a chance to vote on it,” Mr. Blankenbush said.

This year, Mr. Blankenbush said, he hopes to find a Democratic Assembly member willing to sponsor the bill.

“Most of the Republican conference will support it,” Mr. Blankenbush said. “We will have to work hard to find enough support for the bill [on the Democratic side].”

In the Senate, however, Mr. Griffo has already found support.

Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, said she will cosponsor the bill. Sen. Elizabeth O’C. Little, R-Queensbury, said she would cosign.

“This is an idea we’ve had for a long time,” Mrs. Little said.

But she said it will take a lot of effort to get it through the Democrat-controlled Assembly.

“We haven’t been able to get anything [like this bill] through there before,” Mrs. Little said.

Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell, D-Theresa, said the bill could be funded at the expense of other important programs.

“It’s a very well meaning piece of legislation,” she said. “My concern is that it might actually have a negative impact on our schools. If we pass this piece of legislation, the way to pay for it will be at the expense of foundation aid.”

Mrs. Russell said she believes mandate relief must be done while ensuring funding for schools and local governments will not be cut.

She said she cannot support the bill “without assurances that things like school foundation aid and aid to municipalities isn’t going to be manipulated. I’m not sure that anyone can provide those assurances.”

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