State Incentives for Local Government Efficiency

States are currently in the business of promoting local government efficiency as a way to cut local government expenditures.   However, funding is a barrier for local governments that are tryting to take steps towards efficiency.  State incentive programs offer the funding that is needed for local governments to become more efficient through shared services, consolidation, dissolution, mergers, or cooperative agreements. 

The Local Government Efficiency Program in New York is a state incentive program that will provide technical assistance and competitive grants for local governments that seek to save money through consolidation, merger, dissolution, shared services, and cooperative agreements while at the same time still provide core governmental services to the community.  The grants are awarded through the LGeGrant Program which requires the municipality to go through an application process to be awarded the funding.

The Local Government Innovation Fund (LGIF) is an Ohio incentive program (click here for program policies) that will provide financial assistance to municipalities that are trying to set in place innovative and more efficient ways to deliver government services to their community.  Local governments seeking this award should be expected to describe how the plan will also improve the business environment and attract members to the community. With 45 million dollars available, 9 million for grants and 36 million for loans, the LGIF is a resource that local governments should use to implement innovative ideas.

For more information, and technical assistance, on local government consolidation, dissolution, mergers, and shared services visit the Center for Government Research, as well as, the Technical Assistance Manuel for New York’s Share Municipal Services Incentive Grant Program  prepared by the Government Law Center of Albany Law School for the New York Department of State, Division of Local Government Services.

Virginia Continues to Take Big Steps Towards Government Reform

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell set up the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform and Restructuring (commission) with Executive Order No. 2. The commission’s purpose is find a way to make the Virginia State Government more effective, more efficient by streamlining the process, identifying and trimming unneeded agencies.  Further, the commission is to make the state government more transparent, accountable, and accessible to the residents of Virginia.

On April 12, 2011, the Governor signed twenty pieces of government reform legislation based on the commission’s findings.  These pieces of legislation will eliminate the disability services council; consolidate water quality project reports; establishes a state inspector general; consolidates payroll services; and authorizes the consolidation of executive branch agency reports

 In addition, on November 29, 2011, Governor McDonnell announced that he had submitted his Government Reorganization Plan to the General Assembly. This plan was estimated by the Department of Planning and Budget to save at least $2 million a year by cutting two state agencies and nineteen boards and commissions, merging seven agencies and twenty-three boards and commissions, moving four offices and initiatives, and de-regulating three professions. The Governor’s Plan has passed the House and is currently before the State Senate.  

For the current version of Governor McDonnell’s Government Reorganization Plan click here

 For more information about The Government Reform & Restructuring Commission click here.

This blog post was created by Abby Brinkerhoff, Albany Law School Class of 2013.

NLRB Strikes Down Mandatory Arbitration Agreements Preventing Class Action, What Should Employers Do?

By Hanok George, Albany Government Law Review

On January 3, 2012, in D.R. Horton, Inc. and Michael Cuda, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that certain mandatory arbitration agreements that prevent employees from filing group or class actions in a judicial forum violates the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).[1]  The ruling essentially bans employment agreements used by many companies that require employees to individually arbitrate all work-related claims.[2]  The Board’s ruling significantly alters what has become a “common dispute resolution practice for many employers” and is effectively skirting the U.S. Supreme Court’s favorable outlook towards arbitration of employment claims.[3]  Companies are undoubtedly angered by this new decision; many denounced the ruling saying “it is an invitation to vast class action lawsuits on issues that could be resolved out of court.”[4]  It is also argued by the respondent in this case and by supporting amici that this decision is in conflict with the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).[5]  However, the Board holds that its ruling is not in violation of either statute.  In light of this decision, what should employers do to protect their arbitration agreements? Continue reading “NLRB Strikes Down Mandatory Arbitration Agreements Preventing Class Action, What Should Employers Do?”

Minnesota Taking Steps to Restructure Local Government Service Delivery

During the current budget crisis and recession local governments in Minnesota are looking to the state legislature for more flexibility on how they delivery their governmental services. A project to reform local government structure was sparked by municipal groups, including the League of Minnesota Cities, who have realized that in a down economy, and without consistent state aid, municipal officials need more flexibility in how they provide governmental services.  Six forums with municipal leaders were held around the state and from the information collected municipal groups compiled a report describing the current problem and providing recommendations for state legislators.

The report, Focus on Outcomes: Redesigning Minnesota’s Local Government Services, first acknowledges that local governments are in an unprecedented situation due to a large ageing population, a changing economy, and as a result an increase in service demands.  While the report outlines the need for restructuring it also identifies the barriers of restructuring.  The barriers include focusing service delivery on process instead of outcomes, a failing state and local relationship, limiting fiscal and political liability, and the lack of a state-wide plan.

The report, of course, has recommendations for the legislature including redesigning health and human services, children and youth education, transportation, public safety, administration, and government boundaries and structures.  Some examples of recommendations include: focusing health services on outcomes, increasing flexible learning options for students, sharing transportation equipment between municipalities, creating public safety districts and consolidation of services, sharing information technology between municipalities, and exploring opportunities to consolidate municipalities and school districts.

The report is available here.