Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sen. Ritchie on Mandate Relief to Schools

Clarkson University’s Communications and Media Department, the St. Lawrence County League of Women Voters and the St. Lawrence County branch of the American Association of University Women have united to present a series of conversations with candidates for elective office.

The following is a link to the conversation with Senator Patty Ritchie:

While a wide variety of topics were covered, one of my central interests is in what can be done to fund education adequately in a time when there are tax caps and several years of severe cuts to education.
My education question to Sen. Ritchie, below, was on unfunded mandate relief.

"Yesterday, The Watertown Times reported that Canton Central is on course to run out of money next year.

A statewide survey indicated that 5% of districts will run out of funds within one year, another 22% in two years, and 39% within three years.

Insolvency looms… along with State takeover of schools… and the nullification of employment contracts that would have to be re-negotiated with the State.

The Governor’s Mandate Relief Council is in the process of identifying whether a mandate on a school or local government is unsound or unduly burdensome.

Potsdam Central has asked for a cap on employer contributions to health insurance premiums capping the percentage the employer pays and requiring employees and retirees to pay a set percentage.

 Other school districts are asking for repeal or revision of the Triborough Amendment – which guarantees pay raises even when contracts expire and guarantees that all provisions of a former contract remain in tact until a new contract is agreed to.

We all know that NYS has a $1 billion deficit. Therefore, we understand that funding cuts are inevitable. However, mandate relief should balance the other side of the equation for fiscally strapped North Country schools many of whom are on the cusp of insolvency.

1. Will you support mandated copays on health insurance premiums by employees and retirees while capping the employer contribution percentage and
2. Will you support the repeal of the Triborough Amendment?"

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