(NYS) Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) delivered a tough message to local governments in upstate NY during a televised meeting in Albany. Stating bluntly that many local governments have been functionally insolvent for many years, Cuomo highlighted his administration’s push to restructure financially-distressed localities through a financial restructuring group.
NYS Budget Director Robert Megna offered some explanation at the meeting about how a financial restructuring group/board would operate, including mention of a “formula” to identify financially-distressed communities, a procedure for creating a plan to restructure the distressed locality, and a promise of possible state aid to help with a restructuring plan’s implementation.
Cuomo went on to emphasize that state aid will be tied to local performance – much like the growth of a school district’s educational state aid currently is tied to participation in the state’s teacher assessment program. He is determined to hold the feet of local officials to the fire, citing the expiration of a state arbitration law as an opportunity when a financial restructuring group could serve as an arbiter between local governments and employee unions to help foster an agreement that would, as part of a broader plan, lead to eventual solvency.
It seems that NYS is seeking to bring order to the chaos of local government in upstate NY. Recognizing that change is often painful and that local governments in upstate NY are not aligned currently with demographic and economic trends, NYS appears to be lifting the political burden that local officials cannot bear.