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Laura Curran vetoes amendments to her $3 billion 2019 Nassau budget

The county executive has criticized the legislature's spending changes as "reckless" and "irresponsible."

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran during a press

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran during a press conference at the Massapequa LIRR station on March 1. Photo Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has vetoed legislative amendments made to the 2019 budget including new money to reopen closed police precincts and a contingency fund for labor contracts.

Curran, a Democrat, has been embroiled in a battle with the county Legislature since Oct. 29, when it voted 19-0 to make revisions to her $3.075 billion budget. Curran had criticized the spending changes as "reckless" and "irresponsible." Revisions also included restoration of bus routes, funding for offices that serve minority communities as well as reduced funding for salary and benefits to county employees.

Curran signed her veto letter to legislative leaders late Monday, and it was filed with the clerk of the legislature Wednesday.

Earlier on Monday, Curran sued the legislature, claiming the body did not properly publish spending increases in legal notices before the vote. Curran also said the legislature was not authorized to boost the sales tax projection, which rose by $5 million.

On Monday, state Supreme Court Justice Bruce Cozzens Jr. declined to issue a temporary restraining order that would have stopped the budget from taking effect. Curran had until Thursday to sign the budget into law. Republicans, who control the chamber 11-8, have said they can pass budget amendments using an emergency resolution and that spending changes can be published after the budget's passage.

She wrote in the letter that failure to correctly publish legal notices meant the changes were "adopted in violation of lawful procedure" and are "null and void."

Karen Contino, a Curran spokeswoman, said: “The administration’s position on transparency is clear. The public has a right to know how its government plans to spend tax dollars. We believe the court will agree that the amendments were not properly noticed to the public and therefore not eligible for a same-day emergency budget vote.”

The legislature has seven days to reconsider the budget or override the veto with a supermajority of 13 votes. The Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the state board in charge of county finances, can accept or request revisions to the budget after the legislature acts. The legislature can then make changes. The budget document is then forwarded to NIFA, which can make changes of its own.

Nassau legislative Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) said in an interview Wednesday he plans to schedule an override vote for next Tuesday or Wednesday.

Nicolello said the legislature amended a tiny portion of Curran's budget.

"She apparently feels the legislature should not be changing anything,” he said.

The veto of various spending proposals were “judgments on her part," Nicolello said. "She's essentially come out against the opening of the precincts, restoring funding for the buses."

Curran has said she would consider reopening the Sixth Precinct in Manhasset and the Eighth in Levittown in the future, but not at this time. She said the cost to reopen them is closer to $5 million, and the administration could lose a $3 million state grant that had been awarded for the merger.

Bill Biamonte, chief of staff to the legislature's Democratic minority, said in a statement that lawmakers would meet Thursday night “to discuss our options. We hope that there is some room for compromise from the administration."

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