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Group Visits New Castle to Initiate Mandate Relief

NEW CASTLE, N.Y. – It was not quite the scene of an Occupy rally, however, Best 4 NY introduced its "grassroots" mandate relief initiative at New Castle Town Hall on Monday, in hopes of getting the ball rolling on fixing a system it believes is broken.

The purpose of the group's initiative, called "Let NY Work," is to advance six points to enact significant mandate relief in New York. The group believes accomplishing the goal will help stabilize the state's economy and provide a sense of security for taxpayers.

The initiative's six points include: making the pension system predictable and affordable, redefining compulsory arbitration, freezing step increases when contracts expire, reducing the costs of construction on public and private projects, establishing minimum health insurance contributions level for employees and retirees, and allowing no new mandates.

Throughout the night, William Mooney, President of the Westchester County Association, rolled out a list of facts on why the group believes New York's current mandate system is unsustainable and why the group's six points are necessary.

According to the group's research, New York property taxes are 79 percent above the national average. “Quite a number when you think about it,” said Mooney, who added that salaries and benefits of state employees add up to $18.5 billion, or 1/5 of New York’s operating budget.

Best 4 NY projects that New York's teacher pension fund, which it said was at $900 million in 2010, will reach $4.5 billion by 2016. According Mooney, the group also projects that health care costs for state employees and retirees will continue to grow by a collective $300-400 million per year.

“It’s fundamentally unsustainable,” said Mooney, who blamed voters, himself included, for keeping the same elected officials in office. “Over and over and over we are electing the same people. We’re the ones guilty. We keep complaining about what’s going on, then when we go to the booth and we vote either Republican or Democratic, instead of voting for the issues.”

Mooney said cutting teachers and county employees is short-sighted and that the group's initiative instead focuses on making the "product" more efficient, rather than taking away from it with cuts.

Before the Let NY Work initiative, the group endorsed the 2 percent tax cap, which was passed over the summer.

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