Nassau County Executive Laura Curran called on county legislators Tuesday to return from "summer break" and hold an emergency session to pass her proposal to send $375 checks to Nassau homeowners.  Credit: Nassau County Laura Curran Facebook page

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran on Tuesday called on members of the County Legislature to return from "summer break" and approve her bill to send $375 checks to individual homeowners using $100 million in federal pandemic aid.

Nassau's Republican-controlled legislature did not take up Curran’s proposal to issue the one-time checks at its previous meeting on Aug. 2. The legislature next meets on Sept. 13.

Speaking at a news conference outside a home in North Bellmore, Curran said the payments would "not only help those who are struggling," but boost local downtowns "by promoting more spending in our communities."

Curran, a Democrat seeking reelection in November, said "this important legislation has been stalled, and was not even considered by the [Republican] majority in the legislature, who held their last meeting almost a month ago, on Aug. 2."

With an 11-8 majority over Democrats, Republicans control the legislative calendar.

A spokesman for Republican legislators, Chris Boyle, did not say whether GOP lawmakers would return to session before Sept. 13, or if they would support the bill eventually.

"After the county executive had to change her initial plan because she failed to get guidance, and after the failures in the assessment rollout, the Majority is going to do its due diligence to make sure that this is not just another botched initiative," Boyle said in a statement.

When Curran first introduced her plan on May 17, she said the checks would go to all residents eligible for New York's School Tax Refund exemptions, known as STAR.

Under that proposal, all households with incomes of up to $500,000 would have been eligible for $375 checks.

At a hearing, GOP lawmakers grilled county officials about whether her plan violated U.S. Treasury Department guidelines for disbursement of federal pandemic aid under the American Rescue Plan Act.

County officials sought further guidance from the Treasury Department, and on July 30 Curran limited eligible applicants to households making up to $168,900.

Households earning up to $500,000 can receive checks with proof of financial losses stemming from the pandemic.

The proposal for $375 checks has become an issue in the race this fall for county executive, in which Curran faces Republican Hempstead Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman.

In a recent Facebook ad, Blakeman likened the $375 payments to homeowners in the high-tax county to sending them "peanuts."

Most homeowners would prefer a property tax cut, Blakeman he said.

"That is not peanuts," Curran said of her plan on Tuesday.

Curran's campaign issued a new video this week featuring residents who said the payments were important.

The issue of whether checks are approved, who receives them and when they will arrive could affect races for county executive and the county legislature.

Delayed approval of the payments could prevent checks from arriving before Election Day, denying Curran and Democratic and Republican legislators a win to tout in the final days of their campaigns.

"This legislation cannot wait another day, never mind another two weeks for the legislature to come back again," Curran said at the news conference Tuesday.

"So, I am calling on the county legislature to cut their summer break a little short this year," she said.

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