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Nassau lawmakers play bait and switch at election time

Chambers of the Nassau County Legislature in Mineola.

Chambers of the Nassau County Legislature in Mineola. Credit: Newsday / David L. Pokress

There’s a reason the law says the Nassau County Legislature must approve a budget by Oct. 30. Voters casting ballots in the November election are supposed to know what legislators decided before they decide how to vote.

That’s why the Nassau legislature’s Republican majority specializes in passing fake budgets in election years, budgets that fail to include enough revenue to cover the spending lawmakers approve. County fees are then hiked after the votes to re-elect them are cast. These GOP legislators did it two years ago, and they’re likely to do it again with the 2018 budget.

County Executive Edward Mangano, who is not seeking re-election, submitted his budget to the legislature last month. To raise $35 million, it proposes to hike the $55 “public safety fee” on traffic and red-light tickets that was adopted last year. Mangano left the legislature to fill in the dollar amount of the increase. The budget also would hike two fees on paperwork related to recording real estate transactions by $100 each to raise another $23.6 million.

On Monday, legislative Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves, also not seeking re-election, gave notice the dodge was happening again. “The fees may not be in the budget approved by the legislature, ” she said.

Two years ago, Gonsalves and her GOP counterparts stripped fee increases from the budget the week before the election. Then, a few weeks after they retained their majority at the polls, they approved $16 million worth of increases in the same real estate-related fees featured in this year’s budget. This year, ask legislature candidates seeking your vote how they intends to make ends meet.