Nassau County Executive Laura Curran speaks at the Rosa Parks...

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran speaks at the Rosa Parks Bus Terminal on Oct. 28 in Hempstead. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Nassau legislators on Thursday failed to override County Executive Laura Curran’s veto of Republican changes to her $3.3 billion budget for 2021 after minority Democrats aligned with her to block it.

All eight members of the Democratic minority caucus voted against a GOP bill to override, while the 11 members of the majority Republican caucus voted for the measure. A supermajority of 13 votes was needed to override Curran's veto.

Failure of the override means Curran's budget will stand. Republican legislative leaders did not respond to questions about what their next steps would be.

Republicans oppose an initiative in Curran's budget to push off payment of $75 million in county debt until 2021, saying better-than-expected sales tax projections should enable the county to pay the money this year.

GOP lawmakers also criticize Curran's budget for proposing what they describe as a tax increase in the independent sewer district.

"As residents struggle with the financial burdens of COVID-19 it is unconscionable to raise taxes by millions of dollars as the County Executive has done," Republican spokesman Christopher Boyle said in a statement.

"The Majority will do everything in our power to return that money to the residents of Nassau County where it belongs," Boyle said.

Administration officials say the county does not set sewer fees, and that Curran's budget does not raise property taxes.

"County Executive Curran has submitted a no property tax increase budget that prioritizes public safety with the necessary funding for first responders and essential county services," said county spokesman Michael Fricchione.

"Republicans are more focused on spinning their political lies and the County Executive’s reelection than on agreeing to a responsible budget that protects residents through this unprecedented pandemic," Fricchione said.

Curran, a Democrat, is up for reelection in November 2021.

Curran vetoed the Republican amendments to her budget proposal last Thursday.

Democratic lawmakers said Republicans have overestimated 2021 revenues and also are too optimistic about the expected pace of the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 40% of county revenues come from sales tax receipts, which suffered when businesses shut down to prevent the spread of the virus.

Curran's budget projects a 20% decline in sales tax revenue in 2021; the Republican amendments assume a 12% drop.

"While we all continue to hope for continued economic recovery, we refuse to rely upon speculation and a gridlocked federal government to balance our books," said Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport), the minority leader, noting that more federal pandemic aid has not arrived.

Maurice Chalmers, director of the Independent Office of Legislative Budget Review, testified Thursday that sales tax revenues have declined by 8.6% since January, compared with the same period last year.

Chalmers characterized the Republicans' estimate of a 12% drop this year as realistic.

He noted that Moody's Investors Service, a Wall Street bond rating agency, has projected a 16% decline in sales tax revenues for the year.

"Right now, we don't see a downturn of that magnitude," Chalmers said.

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