12.08.10

Enzi: Do Not Impose Burdensome Unfunded Mandate on States, Cities and Small Towns

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, voiced strong opposition to S. 3991, the Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act, which would give the federal government new powers to override local decisions and mandate collective bargaining by public safety personnel. This would impose enormous unfunded mandates on local governments already struggling to balance their budgets, in direct opposition to the legislative will of many states. 

“The contributions of our police, firefighters and first responders to our communities are immeasurable and our support for them unwavering. However, this bill provides no direct benefit to any police officer, firefighter, or first responder. In fact, the bill will impose costs that make resources less available. It is arguably one of the biggest and most dangerous unfunded mandates the federal government has ever imposed.”

“This bill grants enormous power over states, and the enormity of this change is only matched by the prospect that it could occur as a result of total disregard for processes of the Senate.  This legislation has not had a Senate Committee hearing or markup this Congress, or the two Congresses before this one. Mere consideration of this bill today reveals that many in this body remain sadly out of touch with the real needs of our constituents. With stagnant or declining property values and an endless parade of increasing fixed costs, don’t our cities and towns already have enough on their plate without the Federal government imposing more new costs?”

S. 3991 would require that every state, city and town with more than 5,000 residents to open its police, firefighters and first responders to unionization. Collectively, local municipalities are expected to face a fiscal shortfall of up to $83 billion over the next two years.  Estimates are that states collectively have been grappling with a $375 billion budget gap for 2010-2011. The National Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Fraternal Order of Police have voiced opposition to S. 3991. In addition, the mayors of New York City, Boston, Cleveland, Denver, Minneapolis, San Diego, Philadelphia and Mesa, Arizona, cities that already provide collective bargaining rights, wrote to the Senate yesterday urging Senators not to enact this poorly constructed bill.

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