(Albany, New York-January 29, 2013) Today, County Executive Steve Bellone presented Suffolk County’s State agenda to New York Assembly and State Senate representatives. After meeting with the Suffolk delegation, Bellone joined with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano to meet with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos about regional issues.
Suffolk County’s 2012 State Agenda was one of the most successful in recent years due to the improved partnership with the State delegation and their recognition of Bellone’s commitment to addressing the fiscal challenges Suffolk County faces.
“I am grateful to our state delegation for working in a strong, bipartisan way to pass our Legislative Agenda last year,” said County Executive Bellone. “Working with Governor Cuomo and our State delegation, I am confident we will continue to move forward with an agenda that helps Suffolk County taxpayers.”
Bellone was also joined by County Executive Mangano to present a regional plan for the use of Video Lottery Terminals to benefit both Suffolk and Nassau Counties. The proposed regional plan would provide for one facility where video lottery terminals would be placed to serve the unmet need in both counties and allow local dollars to remain on Long Island.
“When Long Islanders leave our region to wager, hundreds of millions of dollars leave our region with them,” County Executive Bellone said. “Building a gaming facility on Long Island will keep that money on Long Island where it can help our local economy.”
In 2012, the State delegation approved measures which helped Suffolk County reduce its budget shortfall, including measures to produce recurring expenditures and create new and enhanced revenue sources:
• Authorization to establish a Traffic & Parking Violations Agency;
• Approval to Expand the Electronic Traffic Monitoring Program -Red Light Cameras;
• Approval of Off Track Betting Bankruptcy Legislation;
• Authorization for Suffolk County to regulate taxicabs, limousines, and livery vehicles;
• New York State Commission of Corrections Variances.
While Suffolk County has improved its fiscal standing, the County is requesting support of additional measures to continue to improve and address the County’s fiscal stability in addition to enhancing County operations and providing much needed assistance and financial relief to County residents. The following assistance is being requested by Suffolk County:
· Modification of the Child Care Block Grant Funding formula-the County is requesting the state modify the formula to ensure that all counties are able to be funded at a uniform income standard or above 150% of the poverty level.
o Rationale-The reduction in State funding coupled with the increased demand for services forced the County to reduce the income eligibility standards from 200% above the State Income Standard in 2011 to 100% in 2012 resulting in 2,100 children and families losing their child care subsidy. This reduction adversely affects Suffolk County residents and s contrary to the intent of the Personal Responsibility Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act which requires adequate work support to enable working families to become self-sufficient as it disincentives parents to increase their earnings over the eligible.
· Extension of the 1% Sales Tax-The County’s State authorization to collect 1% of the sales tax expires on November 30, 2013. The Governor’s proposed 2013-2014 Executive Budget includes a provision to allow counties to renew their existing extension however if this is not approved as part of the overall budget, Suffolk County is asking for support from the State delegation to sponsor our request for the extension through 2015.
· Fashion Institute of Technology Chargeback-The County is required to pay out of County tuition for students who attend community college outside of their home county. Community Colleges offer two-year associate degrees, however the Fashion Institute of Technology offers two and four year degrees as well as graduate degrees and the State requires counties to pay for FIT students past the second year which costs Suffolk County an estimated $3.4 million annually. The County is requesting that the State remove the exemption for FIT and not require out-of-county tuition payments beyond the two years required for community colleges.
· Sale/Leaseback of County Facilities-Suffolk County seeks State Legislation granting the Judicial Facilities Authority the ability to approve Suffolk County’s Sale/Leaseback of County facilities. This approval will allow for the proposed revenues of $70 million included in the Suffolk County’s 2013 budget to materialize and safeguard against drastic program reductions.
· Sandy Relief Act-Sponsored by Senator Boyle and Assemblyman Sweeney-the County supports this legislation that will allow residents and businesses to lower assessments on homes and businesses that were destroyed or severely damaged by Super Storm Sandy. The approval of this legislation will provide essential rebuilding assistance to Suffolk County homeowners and businesses.