Sunday, November 15, 2009

Assembly Member Miller: Mandate Relief Will Save New Yorkers Millions

Reform legislation streamlines services, cuts down on costs, promotes taxpayer savings

Assembly Member Miller (D-38th District) announced that the Assembly passed mandate relief legislation that will streamline services in New York State, cutting down on wasteful spending and saving taxpayers millions (A.40002).

“This is a sweeping bill that targets several areas in need of mandate reform and relief,” Assembly Member Miller said. “Especially in financially daunting times like these, when New York is grappling with a $3.9 billion deficit, we need to take a serious look at where we can streamline, consolidate and organize to make government run more efficiently. That’s exactly what this legislation does.”

The legislation covers a variety of areas, including:

    • Health insurance. Reduces the number of municipal corporations participating in a cooperative health benefit plan from five to three, extending cooperative health benefits to more New Yorkers.

    • Collateral source and subrogation. Prohibits public employees and insurance companies from collecting from a wrongdoer for damages that were otherwise covered by insurance.

    • Multi-county health districts. Consolidates the position of public health director by allowing one public health director to serve more than one county. Also, the Department of Health will be required to periodically review approved-director and board-sharing arrangements to verify that such joint membership continues to serve the interest of public health.

“Without these reforms, an insured individual who is injured can’t recover damages from the wrongdoer, but the insurance company can. That’s not really conducive to healing and getting back on one’s feet, but it certainly does serve the insurance company’s interests,” Assembly Member Miller said. “This reform legislation not only cuts down on the costly racket of double dipping, but it also allows the injured to collect the damages they deserve and need.”

In addition to health-related mandate relief, the legislation addresses procurement and municipal bond bank agency pooling, as well as measures to improve coordination of state and local highway services:

    • Procurement. Increases the local competitive bidding thresholds for all contracts for public work involving an expenditure of more than $20,000 to $35,000.

    • Municipal Bond Bank Agency (MBBA). Allows MBBA to purchase municipal bonds for public improvements provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

    • State and local highway services. Gives greater oversight to the state Department of Transportation and also authorizes and expands shared municipal/state services, including right-of-way maintenance, drainage systems, landscaping and mowing. It also allows for lengthening the term of state and local agreements for snow and ice removal on state highways from a term of three years to up to five years.

“The purpose of this legislation is not just to streamline services to save money for the state, but to also provide relief to New York’s hardworking families who are paying through the nose in taxes,” Assembly Member Miller said. “Through straightforward measures like this we can make some serious headway in not only making New York run more efficiently but also sparing families the pain of paying excess taxes for services they either don’t need or which can be comfortably consolidated or reduced.”