Legislator Madsen announced a proposal on his blog to support a memorializing resolution from the County Legislature urging the State Legislature to pass Senate Bill S2494 and Assembly Bill A2281. These bills would create a mandatory residency requirement before an individual may receive Safety Net benefits. (Our State Senator, Bill Larkin, is a co-sponsor of the bill)
While I normally do not support memorializing resolutions, I think an exception needs to be made here. The State must pass this residency requirement.
By way of background, under the current law, a person who can show they reside in New York and intend to stay for the foreseeable future is entitled to apply for benefits. If a person has a NY driver's license, that will be more than enough to get these benefits. This is one of the least stringent requirements in the country. Consequently, people are flocking to Ulster County because we give away the money better than anyone else.
As Mike noted on his blog, while it is nice to be generous and welcoming to those less fortunate, we simply cannot afford this anymore. With Ulster County being the only county in the State that passes half the costs down to the cities and towns, the City of Kingston now pays over $1 million per year to these costs, and the amount keeps rising every year. In short, the Safety Net is strangling city taxpayers.
Senate Bill S2494 and Assembly Bill A2281 would "protect 'true' New York residents who need these services by authorizing the NYS Legislature to enact a period of residency as a requirement for social services applicants".
The purpose of the Safety Net is to help New York residents who have fallen on hard times get back on their feet and get back to work. It was not designed to attract people from outside New York to take advantage of our generosity and hospitality. Unfortunately, this is what has happened.
We need a strict residency requirement to cut down on the huge expenses in the Social Service budget that are being passed down to the city causing substantial and crippling tax increases.
Therefore, while I normally do not support memorializing resolutions, this is one that city leaders should support strongly. I urge passage of this resolution and certainly urge the State Legislature to pass this important bill.