County Executive expresses disappointment in “spending spree” at taxpayer expense
County Executive Robert P. Astorino today slammed the Democratic-majority of the Board of Legislators for overriding hundreds of budget vetoes, thereby adopting a 2011 budget filled with runaway spending and speculative revenues.
“The Democrats on the board went on a spending spree this month,” Astorino said, “Next month the bills will start coming in. The Democrats have decided to put the bill on the taxpayer’s credit card. But make no mistake. The bill has to be paid and it can’t be paid with phony revenues. This budget by the Democrats is government by gimmicks.”
Astorino in November had proposed a spending plan for next year that cut the county levy by 1 percent, protected the county’s most needy, continued all essential services and protected the county’s three AAA bond ratings.
After the legislators adopted a 2011 operating budget that restored millions of dollars in funding, Astorino used his line-item authority last week to veto $33.5 million in spending . The board Thursday overrode most of Astorino’s vetoes, restoring $32 million in spending, over the objections of the board’s five Republicans in most every case.
In the capital budget, the Democrats restored approximately $71 million in pet projects of questionable legality, which Astorino had vetoed.
“The Democrats had the 12 votes to override my vetoes,” Astorino said. “This is how the democratic process works. They now have to be accountable for their votes.”
Astorino singled out the Board’s action on the Section 8 Housing Voucher Program for particular criticism.
In October, the county notified the state that it was no longer interested in running the Section 8 program. Astorino said the county was losing money on the contract to run this state and federal program. Astorino then gave the state the required 60-day notice to terminate the contract, and the county employees who ran the program were given layoff notices. The state has meanwhile begun action to take over the program and has issued an RFP (request for proposals) for a replacement contract.
The county executive once again criticized the legislators for taking down the county’s reserve fund to dangerous levels.
“That is the kind of reckless action that gets a county’s bonds downgraded. We need look no farther than Nassau County to see that the credit ratings agencies are not fooled by one-shots and gimmicks,” Astorino said.
Astorino said that on Monday he will begin a detailed review of the budget with his budget and finance team to come up with a full assessment of the damage.