NUMC refinancing proposal fails

Photo of the exterior of the Nassau University

Photo of the exterior of the Nassau University Medical Center. (March 18, 2009) (Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara)

ALBANY -- A $300-million refinancing proposal to aid debt-ridden Nassau University Medical Center has failed.

"It is dead," said Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), prime sponsor of a bill that would have allowed NUMC to go through the Nassau Interim Finance Authority to refinance its debt while interest rates are low. He said the proposal would have saved the medical center at least $15 million over time.

Two other Long Island-borrowing proposals also died on the last day of the 2012 legislative session Thursday: a measure to allow Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano to bypass a financial control board to borrow money to pay $41 million in property-tax refunds; and a proposal to allow the financially troubled city of Long Beach to borrow $15 million to pay its debts.

Lawmakers said the medical center bill wouldn't be voted on because of lack of uniform support in the Democrat-led state Assembly. In addition, backing from the finance authority and union members wasn't assured.

"It is apparent there is a mixed reaction to it among Assembly Democrats that needs to be addressed," said Sen. Kemp Hannon, who sponsored the bill in the Republican-led Senate.

Of the four Assembly Democrats from Nassau, three have said they supported the measure: Lavine, Assemb. Michelle Schimel (D-Great Neck) and Assemb. Harvey Weisenberg (D-Long Beach).

The fourth, Deputy Speaker Earlene Hooper (D-Hempstead), declined to answer questions about the issue Thursday.

The Nassau Interim Finance Authority never gave its approval to refinancing NUMC's debt and its board members indicated they were unsure if they were going to go along with it, even if the legislature approved the rescue.

Medical center officials declined to comment.

The medical center, based in East Meadow, has been struggling with rising pension costs and lower Medicaid payments.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) had supported Mangano's attempt to borrow money to pay property tax refunds. But late Thursday, as lawmakers approached the final few bills of the session, Skelos said the proposal wouldn't be approved.

Similarly, Skelos said the Long Beach borrowing bill was going nowhere -- even though he introduced the bill himself. "I put it in as courtesy," he said. "But I think that bonding out for the entire deficit is not the way to go."

With Robert Brodsky

Legislative action

Here's what happened with some notable bills Thursday on the final day of the 2012 state legislative session.

PASSED:

  • A new Suffolk County "Traffic Violations Bureau" was authorized to allow the county to keep some of the money from tickets and fines. County officials expect it will generate $10 million to $12 million annually.
  • School districts, villages and special districts can keep using lever voting machines for two years to delay buying new voting machines.
  • Long Beach and Hempstead were authorized to set speed limits below 30 mph near beaches.
  • Sewage system operators will have to notify the public promptly when raw or partially treated sewage is discharged into state waterways.
  • FAILED:

    • Cash-strapped Long Beach sought to borrow $15 million to cover a budget deficit.

  • Creating misdemeanor and felony "residential foreclosure mortgage fraud" crimes for companies filing false paperwork.
  • Amnesty for catering companies being sued by former workers who claim they are owed tips that were charged to customers as service fees.
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