Republican Leaders Call for Immediate Action on Mandate Relief, Criticize MORE Commission as “Partisan, Wasteful and Redundant”

February 10, 2010

HARTFORD –Senate Republican Leader John McKinney (R-Fairfield) and House Republican Leader Lawrence F. Cafero (R-Norwalk) today renewed their call for state mandate relief one day after meeting with members of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM) at the group’s annual legislative committee meeting.

The leaders have rejected the Democrats’ blue-ribbon commission on municipal opportunities and regional efficiencies (M.O.R.E.), which is comprised of 45 Democratic legislators and no Republicans, as “partisan, wasteful and redundant.” They are calling for immediate passage of a series of measures designed to help cities and towns maintain services and avoid tax increases during the economic recovery. The proposal includes the following measures which have widespread support:

  • a two-year moratorium on passing new unfunded municipal mandates;
  • a rules change requiring a two-thirds majority vote to adopt any new municipal mandates;
  • a two-year postponement of the costly In-School Suspension mandate;
  • a two-year postponement of the costly Raise-the-Age mandate requiring municipalities to treat 16 and 17 year-olds as juveniles;
  • a two-year postponement of the requirement that towns and cities post meeting agendas and minutes on the web; and
  • adding “services” to the list of purchasing contracts that DAS can enter into for municipalities.

In rejecting the need for the M.O.R.E. Commission, Senator McKinney said, “The information the M.O.R.E. commission is seeking is already available. Municipal mandate relief has been studied for years and the last thing we need is another taxpayer funded blue-ribbon commission to restate the obvious. Cities and towns want state government to fund public education, help pave local roads and honor their PILOT agreements. Beyond that, Mayors and First Selectmen need state government to get off their backs and allow them to make the policy decisions that best suit their individual circumstances. They need mandate relief now.”

“The solution to the fiscal problems facing our towns and cities is not more empty rhetoric and inaction from Hartford politicians. It is leadership and action,” said Representative Cafero. “We have heard from our local officials and they clearly need and deserve relief from the costly mandates weighing on their local budgets in this time of fiscal distress.”

After brief remarks yesterday, the Republican leaders spent 40 minutes taking questions from city and town officials who expressed frustration about the procrastination and partisanship that has characterized the Democrat-led legislature’s failure to close the state budget deficit and provide relief to municipalities struggling to maintain local services.