Collins’ budget veto message was clocked into the legislature this afternoon and can be read in its entirety by clicking here.
Here are some highlights from the message:
As County Executive, I understand the Legislature’s desire to fully fund all programs, organizations and agencies that have a history of receiving county support. But as elected leaders tasked with the financial stewardship of previous county tax dollars, we have an obligation to look beyond our desires and make decisions that are responsible, Unfortunately, your Honorable Body amended the proposed budget in a way that can be described as anything but responsible.
If the Legislature’s additional spending actions were left intact, it would result in more than a $8 Million property tax increase for the hardworking taxpayers of Erie County. Therefore, I am vetoing all 154 spending additions passed by the Legislature. Let me be unequivocal: each and every override of these 154 vetoes would increase property taxes on county taxpayers.
In his veto statement, Collins makes no effort to demonstrate how, in fact, the amended budget would actually increase taxes. He just states it as fact.
The missteps taken in your amendments to the 2011 proposed budget became evident when the Division of Budget and Management ran the basic mathematical calculations of the proposed amendments. Assuming for a moment that all amendments are lawful and procedurally proper, which they are not, the result would be a net tax increase of nearly $1million. The Comptroller’s and Majority Leader’s claims that this package cut spending by more than $100,000 are simply false and untrue, and another example of their sheer inability to conduct competent budget calculations. (emphasis mine)
Again, Collins provides no evidence to his claim. He simply restates his position and insults the Comptroller and the Legislature.
Collins is attempting to rule by fiat, which he cannot do. “The County Executive declared the entire Erie County Legislature Amendment package null and void and vetoed the entire package. He doesn’t have the power to do that.” said Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz.
Collins did however achieve a “compromise” with the Republican caucus to shift $3 million in Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) dollars provided to Erie County through the federal stimulus package to the Erie County Library system. Presumably, he brokered a deal with the Library leadership and they will accept this funding without further complaint. Collins is also betting that this contribution will buy the support of two members of the Republican caucus who stated they were willing to support the amended budget package if it could be shown to not increase taxes, Kevin Hardwick and John Mills.
Earlier today, the Democrat majority provided evidence that the amended budget package did not raise taxes and called the bluff of these two legislators. They now have a decision to make, will they accept the word of the County Executive that his proprietary and secret budget calculations demonstrate a tax increase of $2.62 per household annually in Erie County or will they trust the actual numbers provided by the Democrats?
If my name is Kevin Hardwick, I’m asking the County Executive to show his work before making a decision.
If Hardwick or Mills fails to vote with the Democrat majority and override the vetoes, the next step will be to take the budget to court and ask a judge to sort it out.