Unfunded Mandates and ‘Uncontrollables’

by Gail Robinson
May 30, 2005

DEMOCRACY BY DECREE?

Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani used to complain that so-called unfunded mandates were, in effect, undemocratic. “Some of it you would make the political choice to do in the way in which you’re mandated to do it, and some of it you’d probably choose [to do] very, very differently,” he told CNN in 1994. “So probably 25 to 30 percent of your budget is moving in a direction where, if you had the decision-making at the local level, you’d make the decision not to spend the money that way.”

But others see it differently. Efforts to limit unfunded mandates “strike at the very heart of the body of laws that binds us together as a progressive society and with the highest standard of living in the world,” Representative George Miller of California told Congress in 1995.

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