Virginia Addresses Unfunded Mandates

Virginia has joined the battle against unfunded mandates placed on local governments by creating a commission to examine the current problem and possible solutions.  It has been reported by Leesburg Today that the Task Force for Local Government Mandate Review has been established by Gov. Bob McDonnell and has issued their First Interim Report to the Governor, which highlights what the task force has reviewed and includes their proposals for eliminating the unfunded mandates that currently overwhelm local governments.

The task force has recommended that legislators place a moratorium on  new unfunded mandates until the state has created an appeal/review process to control the proliferation of unfunded mandates.  New York has recently set up an appeal and review process, the Mandate Relief Council, which was discussed in an earlier blog on Government Reform.  Further, before the proposed moratorium should be lifted, Virginia should reverse a $60 million dollar reduction in state aid to localities and ensure that state governments, not local governments, pay the cost of health benefits for retired teachers.

Other mandate relieving suggestions include education reform.  After reviewing 75 state education mandates some suggestions included giving schools more control over their academic calendar (for example reversing the King’s Dominion Law which prevents schools from starting before Labor Day), reducing paper work by 15%, and the elimination of certain standardized testing.

Recommendations outside the realm of education include eliminating state inspection requirements for erosion and sediment control where local inspectors are present, reverse the requirement for recycling surveys, eliminate the public notice (newspaper published notice) requirement for contract bids, allow local governments to manage local transportation projects without state oversight, and allow local governments to require some local employees to contribute 5% for their share of the Virginia Retirement System payments.

The full report and all the recommendations are available here.