Taking a few hours away from the urgent task of figuring out how to manage Nassau County's finances, County Executive-elect Edward Mangano made a pilgrimage to meet with a fellow fiscal conservative, Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy. Yes, it was ceremonial, but it was also a real first step toward regional cooperation. And they'll need it.
Both Nassau and Suffolk face huge problems in 2011, when federal stimulus dollars run dry just as the counties will have to make sharply higher contributions to the state pension system. So Levy and Mangano want to work together to lobby Albany, so that state budget cuts don't hurt the two counties. Mangano has also already identified areas, such as revenues realized from inmate phone calls at the jails, where Suffolk, under the frugal Levy, does better.
In the brief meeting in Hauppauge yesterday, they talked about working together on presenting a united front at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, to get Long Island a bigger share of funding for transportation projects; on fighting heroin addiction; and on hiring a joint lobbyist to work on issues such as funding for sewer outfall pipes.
The two men come from different parties, but they share a similar trajectory: veteran conservative legislators turned executives, facing rough fiscal times. For now, they're right to begin speaking in one voice whenever possible. Our region will be stronger that way. hN