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         November 27, 2001

Statement of Minority Leader Peter J. Schmitt on behalf of the
Republican Members of the Nassau County Legislature
in Opposition to the 15% Tax Increase Proposed and Adopted
by the Democrat Majority on the Legislature

On October 30th I warned this Legislature that the budget being adopted fell way short of fixing the fiscal problems facing this County. I was right.

Again, I must warn the members of this body that the budget proposal before us does not fix the problems either. In fact, to even suggest that it will, is a deliberate falsehood.

Considering that County taxes will have been raised 35% over the past four-years is dramatic proof that you cannot tax your way out of the problem. To attempt to do so ignores the structural reforms necessary to reduce costs and ignores what every homeowner must do each and every day in their homes - expenses must meet revenues.

We all know what needs to be done.

To achieve structural balance in this budget and any future budget we need partners. Considering the hard fact that 45% of the budget pays for wages and fringe benefits, we need help from our unions in a realistic effort to cut costs. Then and only then should we turn to the taxpayer and ask for a single dollar more.

Some have suggested that the taxpayer can well afford an additional tax increase. I disagree. In fact, on the very day that it has been declared that the United States is in a recession you are voting to impose the single largest tax increase in Nassau County history.

I do not represent some of the highest per capita income communities in the United States. Nor do many of you.

My constituents have seen their 401k's in many instances cut in half and cause worry as to whether they can retire and afford to live in the community they helped build. My office receives calls daily from senior citizens who are trying to make ends meet and worry whether or not they can pay their tax bills or perhaps lose their homes. I have neighbors who have lost their jobs and are struggling to find the money to pay for clothes or holiday gifts for their children never mind worrying about buying a Happy Meal.

The action that this Legislature is taking sets a dangerous precedent. You are attempting to raise taxes above and beyond what was legally adopted by the Legislature on October 30th. You are ignoring the Charter, the law and the voice of the people when it overwhelmingly approved the Charter changes in 1994.

In addition to the above, I cannot vote for this budget because:

  1. There has been no review of this budget by the Independent Legislative Budget Review Office - I would like to have their detailed testimony as to its contents.
  2. My own fiscal staff will had no time to review the budget.
  3. We have no benefit of NIFA's review of the proposal.
  4. There is no opportunity for Legislators to question department heads regarding department specific proposals.
  5. There has been no explanation of what state enabling legislation has been passed or required to allow for any specific budgetary proposals.
  6. The public has been no given opportunity to review or speak on the new budget.
  7. There has been no proper legal notice of the budget hearing
  8. The increase of taxes post budget adoption in our opinion is illegal.

I urge my colleagues to vote NO

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