O’Mara and Palmesano: The Governor Should Not Have Vetoed Indigent Legal Services Bill

January 3, 2017

ALBANY, NY – State Assemblyman Phil Palmesano (R, Corning) and State Senator Tom O’Mara (R, Big Flats), are denouncing Governor Andrew Cuomo’s veto of legislation that both Palmesano and O’Mara were pushing, to get the state to reimburse counties, in paying for legal services for those who cannot afford attorneys. “This legislation could have saved property taxpayers between $300 and $400 million dollars per year. Families, seniors, farmers, manufacturers and small-business owners would’ve felt this relief in a real way,” said Assemblyman Phil Palmesano. “The governor promised to deliver mandate relief when we instituted the tax cap. The legislature presented him with a commonsense, bipartisan plan, and he rejected it. He continues to break his promise. I hope that taxpayers are mindful of this veto when the governor goes on his public relations tour and tries to convince New Yorkers that is he committed to property tax relief.

“Our constitution takes very seriously the right of every New Yorker to have fair legal representation. That right should never be compromised because an individual does not have the resources to pay for counsel and their municipality cannot provide the required assistance because it is financially unable to do so. The governor is shying away from the state’s responsibility to protect civil liberties,” said Palmesano. “The state is already paying for these five counties. What about other counties facing similar financial stress? The governor had a chance to promote fairness, protect municipalities, provide property tax relief and uphold due process. He failed.”

Senator O’Mara issued the following statement, about the veto:

“Governor Cuomo’s end-of-the-year, close-to-midnight veto once again shows that he refuses to get serious about or make the commitment to meaningful mandate relief for local governments and local property taxpayers. When the tax cap was first enacted five years ago, the governor promised that it would go hand in hand with rolling back the heavy burden of unfunded state mandates on local governments, school districts and taxpayers. While there have been some important mandate relief actions since then, including long-term pension reform and the takeover of the growth in local Medicaid costs, not nearly enough has been done to ensure a future of long-term property tax reductions for local property taxpayers.
We need a future defined by property tax cuts, not smaller property tax increases. The governor’s decision to reject this strong, unanimously approved, bipartisan legislation is another missed opportunity to begin truly turning things around for local property taxpayers.

“The approval of this legislation to get county governments and local property taxpayers out from under this unfunded state mandate would have marked a significant mandate relief action to start the new year. We need to take actions like this one if we’re ever going to truly transform the state-local partnership and lead the way to a future of property tax cuts for our local taxpayers. It’s disappointing, to say the least, that the governor keeps refusing to live up to his promise and recognize the need.”