The New York State Association of Counties is touting what the organization calls major victories for local governments in the recently concluded state legislative session.
“Over the last year we’ve seen how vital it is to have strong local governments that can respond to unforeseen emergencies and provide essential services to residents when it matters most,” NYSAC President and Ontario County Board Chairman Jack Marren said in a statement. “Counties applaud Speaker Heastie, Majority Leader Steward-Cousins and the state lawmakers who fought to provide counties with the resources and flexibility we need to support the programs at the local level.”
Key county priorities that passed both houses of the legislature include:
• S.5560-A (Reichlin-Melnick) / A.5339 (Paulin) – Creates an Early Intervention Covered Lives Assessment Fee on commercial insurance to help fund services for infants with special needs.
• S.6323 (Gaughran) / A.7209 (Thiele) – Expands Investment Options for Counties to provide similar options as those available to New York City under current law and help maximize returns for taxpayers.
• S.5418-C (Cooney) / A.6601-A (Rivera) – Creates an AIM Redesign Task Force to analyze and recommend available alternatives to the current AIM formula and allocations, including models from other states.
• S.4051 (Bailey) / A.4982 (Hevesi) – Raises the age of Juvenile Delinquent Offenses from 7 to 12, keeping very young children out of the criminal justice system, helps to address racial disparities in the justice system and allows tax dollars to be spent on programs that are developmentally appropriate for young children.
• S.6445-A (Reichlin-Melnick) / A.7694A (Lunsford) – Extends the County-Wide Shared Services Initiative for an additional three years and enhances flexibility within the program to encourage more participation.
“Counties appreciate our partners in the state Legislature who stepped up this year to support local governments as we emerge from the pandemic and start to rebuild,” said NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario. “Speaker Heastie, Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins and members of the Legislature worked with us to pass legislation that will help counties more effectively serve vulnerable children and families across the state.”
Acquario said that while this year saw significant progress on a host of issues confronting counties, much more work remains to be done, including reforms to civil service to ensure counties have the tools necessary to hire a diverse, qualified and motivated workforce and reforms to laws governing mental health competency restoration services.
“I’m hopeful that we can build on the progress made during this session and carry that momentum into next year, but first we need Gov. Cuomo to sign these bills into law so that counties can get to work building effective and sustainable local governments,” Acquario added.