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Override of Laura Curran budget veto fails

The defeat came after Curran, the Nassau County executive, made a last-minute deal with Democrats to restore two police precincts and fund other services.

Nassau County Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) during the

Nassau County Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) during the legislature's meeting on Tuesday in Mineola. Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Nassau County Legislature failed to override County Executive Laura Curran’s veto of changes to her 2019 budget after she cut a last-minute deal with Democrats to restore two police precincts and fund other services.

An override vote requires a supermajority of 13 lawmakers. Tuesday's vote failed along party lines, with 11 Republicans supporting the override, and six Democrats opposed. Two Democratic legislators, Arnold Drucker (D-Plainview) and Ellen Birnbaum (D-Great Neck) were absent.

Legislators previously had unanimously approved a budget amendment  of revisions, including $1.6 million to restore the Sixth Precinct in Manhasset and the Eighth in Levittown. The revisions also established a $12.4 million contingency fund to pay for potential new labor contracts with the county's major unions.

Curran, a Democrat, had called the precinct plan "irresponsible," citing costs and a shortage of detectives to staff reopened stations. She vetoed the budget amendment last week.

On Monday, Curran and minority Democrats announced a deal: Democratic lawmakers would vote to uphold her veto, and Curran would fund several initiatives, including the precincts and bus routes in Plainview and Port Washington, but not the contingency fund for labor agreements.

Curran spokeswoman Karen Contino said Tuesday that, “funding for labor will be determined during collective bargaining.”

Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) noted Curran's change in position on the budget amendment.

He also recalled that she had reversed course on her signature property assessment plan in September. Curran issued an executive order that lowered the fraction at which homes are assessed, a move that lawmakers fear will cause spikes in some tax bills. 

"Are we today supposed to rely on these commitments that the county executive has made? . . . I think not,” Nicolello told legislators at a meeting in Mineola.

He also complained that in the new deal, Curran did not allocate money for bus routes in communities chosen by majority Republicans. The amendment that was vetoed included $400,000 for that purpose.

"It's petty, it's directed, it's political," Nicolello said.

Legis. Laura Schaefer (R-Westbury) suggested the administration might not keep promises it made to the Democratic minority. "I would just be careful because I don't know that all those promises would be fulfilled," she said.

Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said he trusted Curran to live up to the agreement.

In a statement, Curran thanked her “colleagues in the minority for their support and for working with my administration to pass my 2019 no property tax increase budget. This is the result of open, collaborative government working for the benefit of the residents.”

The budget now goes to the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the county's financial control board, for approval.

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