For the second time in five weeks, Nassau Legis. Laura Curran has broken ranks with her Democratic legislative colleagues, supporting $6 million in borrowing to replace aging NICE buses that must be taken out of service next year.
Curran (D-Baldwin) was the lone Democrat to support the borrowing during Monday’s legislative meeting, providing the critical 13th vote needed to approve the project.
“This is a very important issue in my district,” said Curran, who has worked with the county to restore bus routes in her South Shore district. “I just couldn’t say no.”
Curran, who is mulling a run for county executive next year, also cast the deciding vote for the bus funding during a June 27 Rules Committee meeting.
Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) said Curran votes with the party “over 90 percent of the time. But we won’t agree 100 percent of the time.”
The funding will replace 28 NICE buses that are at least 12 years old and have a minimum of 500,000 miles in service. Without the funds, NICE CEO Michael Setzer said the company would curtail services.
The county and state each provide 10 percent matching grants for the project while the federal government provides the remaining 80 percent — about $48 million.
Borrowing requires 13 votes; there are 12 Republicans and seven Democrats.
Democrats have refused to support borrowing for projects in the county’s $275 million capital plan until the GOP creates an independent inspector general’s office to vet county contracts.
Republican lawmakers say Democrats are holding up critical projects to push a political agenda.
On Monday, Democrats, including Curran, voted down borrowing for new sewers in Sea Cliff, road resurfacing and fuel tank replacement.
Nassau’s contracting practices have drawn scrutiny since former state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was indicted last year on federal corruption charges that included influencing the award of a county contract to a firm that employed his son, Adam. Dean and Adam Skelos were convicted in December and are appealing.