School mandate panel flunked its test
Soon after taking office, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo set up two special panels: one to find Medi-caid cuts and the other to pare the many costly mandates the state imposes on local governments and school districts.
The Medicaid panel quickly agreed on billions in recommended cuts. But the committee on school mandates came up with no specific cuts -- and was roundly criticized as a flop.
The critics have a point. Some mandates, such as those that help handicapped children get the education they need, are important and humane.
But politicians in Albany have been all too ready to pass marginal laws imposing costs on others, often for dubious political reasons. This helps drive up property taxes. State requirements will become all the more onerous if Cuomo persuades lawmakers to approve a much-needed cap on property taxes -- making it nearly impossible to pass along the cost of new mandates to taxpayers.
So it's high time for a more rigorous mandate review in Albany -- and a serious discussion, at every level of government, of which requirements should be kept.
It's worth bearing these issues in mind the next time someone bellows, "There ought to be a law!" Because chances are that, if we ask for something, it will cost us.