Removing Unfunded Mandates

As John Howell reports in the Warwick Beacon, cities and towns are going to be clamoring for a reduction in unfunded mandates (ie; rules or laws imposed by the state on municipalities without the concomitant funds).

“There’s slim hope that the legislature would relieve schools of providing textbooks for non public schools or special education busing,” said Daniel Beardsley, president of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns. Textbooks, busing and much more are on the radar screen, although there was a reluctance on the part of most contracted for this story to disclose too much. Efforts appear to be directed at arriving at a consensus and drafting an agenda before going public….
Timothy Duffy, executive director of the Rhode Island Association of School Committees, said yesterday the group has forwarded a list of mandates that “hopefully” the governor will consider lifting as part of his supplemental budget. They include eliminating step increases for teachers; lifting the requirement that school nurses are also certified teachers and revising requirements that public schools provide out of district transportation for private and parochial schools. He noted that often private and parochial schools operate on different school calendars yet municipalities are required to provide busing at times when public schools are closed.

Ha. Yeah, “eliminating step increases for teachers”, that’ll happen! Regardless, I’m all for removing the various transportation requirements. Warwick Mayor Scott Avedesian also recommended removing the school bus monitor requirement. He also had a pretty convenient complaint (conspiracy alert!):

Mayor Scott Avedisian had a…suggestion: the requirement…for the city to conduct a full revaluation every nine years with a statistical revaluation in three year increments. When the revaluation requirement was enacted, the state underwrote the cost. That’s no longer the case and cities and towns are faced with the burden.

In Warwick, the most recent revaluation was conducted at the peak of the housing market. So removing that revaluation requirement would probably keep current tax rates on individual properties the same, which is to say artificially high. In tight economic times, I’m guessing that would be fine with Avedesian who is already faced with decreasing revenues. But it would stink for Warwick property owners. I’m with Mayor Avedesian on this one, though:

The mayor also targeted the potential inconsistency between legislation that caps how much municipalities can increase the tax levy and the Caruolo Act that gives school committees the power to sue a municipality for additional funding.
“If it goes to Caruolo we really need to change the law so a judge can’t do something that doesn’t fit within the cap,” he said.

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Mike
Mike
12 years ago

The Smith Hill maggots could repeal Caroulo in 10 minutes, along with all unfunded mandates.
They CHOOSE not to.
Our “hero” governor doesn’t call them on it. BTW, where is our hero’s supplemental budget he promised would be out by Dec. 15?

Monique
Editor
12 years ago

“The mayor also targeted the potential inconsistency between legislation that caps how much municipalities can increase the tax levy and the Caruolo Act that gives school committees the power to sue a municipality for additional funding.
“If it goes to Caruolo we really need to change the law so a judge can’t do something that doesn’t fit within the cap,” he said.”
Wow. I never thought of that.
This needs to go on the “Duh, pass it immediately” list of things for the General Assembly to do.

Tom W
Tom W
12 years ago

At present the Caruolo Act only requires a judge to “consider” the caps. There’s a loophole you can drive a truck through.
It also does not provide for the alteration / reopening of contracts, i.e., teachers contracts. Under Caruolo those are sacrosanct.
So unless it is repealed or amended, expect to see a litany of these suits around Rhode Island before long, particularly if the General Assembly cuts local aid.
In effect, leaving Caruolo intact will mean the effective repeal of the Paiva-Weed statute.
The representatives in the General Assembly “who care about working families” might be counting on this – they can “not” raise taxes by cutting education aid and diverting the funds to their own purposes (state unions and welfare), and in so doing shift the responsibility to the municipalities to raise taxes.
They’ll say that they had no choice but to cut local aid because of the national economy – so it’s not their fault.
In turn, the town / city councils will blame the school committees for suing them, and say that they had no choice but to raise property taxes because a judge ordered them to – so it’s not their fault.
The school committees in turn will say they had no choice, for they were confronted with lessened state aid, unfunded mandates, blah blah blah – so it’s not their fault.
So in the end, everyone will have an excuse and be able to point the blame elsewhere. Nobody will be responsible, but the taxes will still go up and the unions will still get every red cent of their “contract.”
Welcome to the Rhode Island Tango.

Monique
Editor
12 years ago

Perfectly described, TomW.
It’s a beautiful system presently. (… unless you happen to be a student in our public schools, a tax payer or a good teacher.)

George
George
12 years ago

Textbooks and Transportation for non-publics schools. Madate, maybe. Unfunded, definitely not! I pay high taxes for a school department that consumes 80% of the city budget…yet the schools suck.
I don’t get a break on my property tax for sending my kids to private school. The least I could get for 80% of my property tax is some books and a ride to school for my kids.
Politicians always forget. It’s not their money! IT’S OURS!

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