Nassau County minority caucus poses $128M tax cut awaiting approval by legislative majority

Nassau County minority caucus poses $128M tax cut awaiting approval by legislative majority
From left – Legislators Debra Mulé, Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Siela A. Bynoe (speaking), Carrié Solages, and Arnold W. Drucker. (Photo courtesy of the Office of the Legislative Minority)

Members of the Nassau County Legislature’s Minority Caucus have proposed a plan to deliver immediate tax cuts amounting to $128 million in the upcoming budget proposal, but it is contingent on the ​​Blakeman administration and Legislative Majority accepting the tax cuts in the proposal due on Friday.

The county has had four consecutive years of surpluses up to and including the year 2022. The Minority Caucus said it is projected that 2023 will also end with a “significant surplus.”

According to the Minority caucus, the county has more than $1 billion in reserves. They added that the county’s Office of Management and Budget has plans to add another $100 million to reserves this year.

They are arguing that those funds should go back to county taxpayers through their proposed tax cuts.

Minority caucus legislators gathered at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive & Legislative Building on Wednesday to demand that the county implement the tax cuts promised to constituents.

Multiple legislators, including Legislator Joshua Lafazan (D – Woodbury) and Legislator Carrié Solages (D – Lawrence), commented on the financial strain many constituents are facing due to inflation and rising prices. They said that this tax cut would be beneficial to individuals experiencing this strain.

“Confronting Nassau County’s high cost of living – which consistently ranks among the highest in our nation – must be at the core of any strategy for preventing the departure of our young people from our region and empowering our senior citizens to live their golden years in the communities they built,” Lafazan said. “We have worked tirelessly to restore Nassau County’s fiscal health, and Nassau taxpayers should be the first to reap the rewards of those efforts at this crucial time.”

The minority caucus said that this plan fulfills Blakeman’s failed promise to deliver tax cuts, which his campaign platform included two years ago.

On Sept. 16, 2021, Blakeman posted on his campaign Facebook page that he would cut taxes if elected and made subsequent statements that he would deliver said tax cuts.

Blakeman’s 2023 budget, which was enacted at the end of 2022, included no tax cut. The Minority Caucus said this was done “despite inheriting significant budget surpluses and robust reserves.”

“Our fiscal strength enabled then-candidate Bruce Blakeman to state that he would ‘immediately’ cut taxes upon taking office to the tune of $128 million in his first year,” Nassau County Legislator Arnold W. Drucker (D – Plainview) said. “Nearly two years later, ‘immediately’ still hasn’t happened. He must have forgotten that he once called a previous plan he disagreed with ‘peanuts’ because he hasn’t even given the taxpayers crumbs during his first half of his term. In the face of rising costs on everyday essentials, it is long past time for the County Executive to live up to his promises.”

Christopher Boyle, communications director for Blakeman’s office, said that the minority caucus has not filed its tax cut proposal and that no comment would be made by Blakeman or the majority legislature prior to the budget proposal made Friday.

The minority caucus said their tax cut is based upon evaluations of budget figures and returning this year’s surplus with a “modest portion” of the county’s reserves. They said this is modeled off the method implemented for the 2022 tax cut of $70 million, which garnered unanimous legislative support.

“During my tenure in the Legislature, I have had a front-row view to the harm caused by financial mismanagement and the painstaking work it takes to recover from those mistakes,” Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D – Glen Cove) said. “These experiences have engrained in me a cautious approach to overseeing taxpayer dollars, and I strongly believe that Nassau County is in an ideal position this year to responsibly deliver a significant tax cut that will help all of our constituents.”

The caucus said the proposed tax cut would be done responsibly.

Per county charter deadlines, the county’s budget proposal is due Friday. Blakeman’s administration and majority caucus legislators have until that deadline to accept or reject the Minority Caucus’ tax cut proposal.

“When it comes to delivering tax relief, County Executive Blakeman and his administration have been all talk and no action, and their inaction has real consequences for our constituents,” Nassau County Legislature Minority Leader Kevan M. Abrahams (D – Freeport) said. “The members of the Minority Caucus are committed to holding the County Executive and the Legislative Majority accountable for meeting their commitments to the residents we are entrusted with serving.”

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