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Mandates in Florida: Myths , Trends, and Facts. Jaclyn A. Bunch LeRoy Collins Fellow Doctoral Candidate March 21 st , 2012. What is a Mandate.

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mandates in florida myths trends and facts

Mandates in Florida: Myths, Trends, and Facts

Jaclyn A. Bunch

LeRoy Collins Fellow

Doctoral Candidate

March 21st, 2012


What is a Mandate

  • Legal order, constitutional provision, statutory provision, or administrative regulation, that requires a local government to undertake a specified activity or to provide a service that meets minimum standards (Zimmerman, 1978)
  • Imposition of a requirement by one level of government that other units of government perform a particular service or perform it in a particular way(Fix and Kenyon, 1990 p.7)
  • Any legal provision, order, or regulation with the intent to change the activities of a lower tiered government
disadvantages of mandates
Disadvantages of Mandates
  • Costs
    • Little incentive for higher tiered governments to control the costs placed upon localities
    • Attribution of blame would be difficult to ascribe
    • A single state mandate may not add significantly to municipal expenditures, but a series of mandates may have a burdensome cumulative effect
  • Preemptions
    • Reduce the governments' discretionary authority
    • May make municipalities less responsive to the needs of citizens
advantages of mandates
Advantages of Mandates
  • Shown to have a measurable and positive effect in enhancing plan quality for growth management and other adopted comprehensive plans
  • Mandates can be effective and aid in development of outcomes when there is goal congruence or saliency and importance within the community in support of the changes
  • Reports on mandates and measures affecting local government as supplied by the Legislative Committee of Intergovernmental Relations (LCIR)
  • Full reports from 1992 to 2006
  • Analyzed by:
    • Issue addressed
    • Substantial impact
    • Estimated fiscal cost
    • Purpose
issue addressed
Issue Addressed
  • Analyzed by:
    • Governmental service
    • Judicial
    • Personnel
    • Public safety
    • Physical environment
    • Transportation
    • Community development
    • Human services
    • Culture and recreation
    • Debt services
    • Operating expenses
    • Revenue
substantial impact
Substantial Impact
  • Analyzed by:
    • Disadvantageous to the locality
      • required more work or more time dedicated to a project or program on behalf of the locality
      • Ex: Requires participation in a pilot program
    • Advantageous to the locality
      • required less work or less time dedicated to a project or program on behalf of locality
      • Ex: Exemptions from work
    • No Impact
      • should neither benefit nor harm the locality in a manner of work or time
      • Ex: The law was merely definitional
estimated fiscal cost
Estimated Fiscal Cost
  • Estimated cost of the mandate as determined by the LCIR and documented in the report
  • Also recoded as either a gain, loss, or neutral expense to the locality.
  • Categorized as follows:
    • Restricts local activities
      • limit revenue or preempt a previously held power
    • Promotes state priority
      • state amends, revises, or creates a state program
    • Coordination
      • any mandate which regarded cooperation or coordination between the state and localities, localities and other localities, or developers
    • Accountability to the state
      • specifically mentioned a state office or program and the requirements a locality must fulfill to that office or program
    • Accountability to the public
      • require procedures which were accountable to taxpayers
florida in national context
Florida in National Context

Effective July 1, 1978, any laws passed by the Florida Legislature that mandate a municipality or county to perform an activity or provide a service or facility that would require additional local expenditures must include an estimate of the total cost and provide a means for financing it.

However a survey by the U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) in 1989 cited Florida as one of several states who felt the provisions against mandates had little impact.

In 1990, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that protects local governments against the imposition of unfunded mandates. The amendment permits local governments to ignore a state law requiring them to spend funds unless: 1) the law was passed by two-thirds vote of both houses and 2) the legislature has declared the legislation fulfills an important state interest. If these two requirements are not met, the state must appropriate sufficient funds to pay for the mandate or provide a new local funding source

florida in national context1
Florida in National Context
  •  Alaska: Acts necessitating appropriations by a local government do not become effective unless approved by a voter referendum (Art 2, Sec19)
  • California: Several propositions have required the state to reimburse local government for all costs attributed to state mandates
  • Hawaii: Constitutional amendment in1978 requires the state to share in the cost of any new mandates
  •  Louisiana: Certain categories of mandates require local government approval or funding by the state (such as employee benefits)
  • Maine: State must reimburse localities for at least 50% of property tax revenue loss
  • Pennsylvania: State required to reimburse lost revenue to local government due to exemptions or special tax provisions enacted by the legislature (if they were caused by age, disability, infirmity, or poverty)
three myths
Three Myths
  • Mandates have been increasing over time
    • Overall
    • Categorical
  • Mandates largely go unfunded
  • Mandates negate local authority with increasing accountability to the state
    • Distribution of purpose
    • Trends within accountability to the state category
myth one mandates have been increasing
Myth One:Mandates have been increasing
  • Increasing Mandates?
    • Overall
    • Categorical
      • Disadvantaging
      • Restrictive
myth two mandates largely go unfunded
Myth two: Mandates largely go unfunded
  • Rely on LCIR estimates as there is not an independent source
  • Real costs are rarely analyzed and compiled
  • Real costs are not updates or submitted yearly
myth three mandates negate local authority
Myth Three: Mandates negate local authority
  • Reduce the governments' discretionary authority
  • May make municipalities less responsive to the needs of citizens
  • Category of interest: Accountability to the state
  • Myth One: Mandates have been increasing over time
    • Data ranging from 1992-2006 in the state of Florida does not conform to this myth.
    • There is no apparent trend and if one was to utilize the data to make any claim it would be that mandates have been decreasing in frequency since 1998.
  • Myth Two: Mandates largely go unfunded
    • The results are inconclusive from the data provided from legislative mandate summaries.
    • It would appear from these summaries that most legislation is fiscally neutral
  • Myth Two: Mandates largely go unfunded (Continued)
  • Real costs vary across localities, even very similar localities, as existing capacity and previous policy choices affect the cost of the new mandate.
  • Real costs vary over time as other factors that impact the mandate change (e.g., population trends, technology, inflation, and even other mandates).
  • Preliminary estimates of mandate costs often fail to converge with actual cost data because the implementing regulations are not known at the time of the mandate's passage, or other simplifying assumptions necessary to prepare cost estimates are violated by the reality of implementation.
  • Myth Three: Mandates negate local authority with increasing accountability to the state
    • While substantially low in number mandates that require reporting or other forms of accountability to the state seemed to be inconsistent and then been increasing steadily since the turn of the century.
    • Extending the period of analysis to see if this trend maintains would be of interest

Florida needs to reinstitute an independent group to recognize and estimate the cost of statutory mandates on local governments.

Florida statute needs to better define key words in the constitutional amendment including terms such as “insignificant fiscal impact”.

The independent commission should produce an annual report which includes the cost of individual mandates in addition to an aggregate cost across all mandates.

In recognition of the cumulative effect of the mandates, and the difficulty of estimating real costs, the independent commission should conduct analysis of a sample of local government, each fiscal year, to determine the actual fiscal impact of continual mandates.