State Legislature Provides the Leadership New Yorker’s Deserve

April 28, 2006

This week the Legislature in a bipartisan fashion voted to override Governor Pataki’s ill-conceived budget vetoes – vetoes that would have left thousands of families without quality health care, low-cost prescriptions and much needed tax relief. The Legislature’s bipartisan budget protects the health of New York’s most vulnerable population by funding critical nursing home, hospital and emergency care.

Governor Pataki’s misguided budget vetoes make one question where he stands. His recent actions lead me to believe he cares more about trying to become a candidate for president than protecting the people of New York State – the people he was elected to represent. His vetoes would have been devastating to the struggling health care industry on Long Island and compromised the availability of affordable health care and the quality facilities our families deserve.

By overriding the vetoes of the governor the Legislature restored the governor’s assault on health care. It reflects the Legislature’s priorities to help the state’s working families and ensure affordable health care for all residents. This included vital restorations and additions to Medicaid and other public health programs. It is a priority of the Legislature to protect working families to ensure they have access to – and actually receive – the health care they need.

The final budget maintains our effort to keep Family Health Plus co-payments for non-emergency room visits affordable, and rejects cuts to local nursing homes and hospitals, including Southside.

I am pleased we ensured seniors access to affordable prescription drug coverage, in spite of President Bush’s Medicare Part D fiasco. As a result of our efforts, the state has already covered millions in emergency funding to pay for medicine this plan was supposed to cover. This budget delivers results because seniors should not have to make tough choices like choosing between paying for certain prescription drugs and paying for other everyday items.

The governor’s recent campaign style commercials – paid for with taxpayer dollars – are airing all over New England, from Boston to Philadelphia. I find it rather ironic that the Boston media market covers a large area in the state of New Hampshire – the sight of the first presidential primary.

In his continued efforts to pander to right-wing conservative voters Pataki is threatening to deny the actions of the Legislature, and not release the funds necessary for critical health care funding or forcing the Legislature to challenge him in court – costing taxpayers even more.

Ignoring the votes of over two-thirds of the people’s representatives in both houses of the Legislature, was an extraordinary attempt by the governor to seize powers not given to him by the state constitution – and impress partisan voters in New Hampshire and Iowa. It is abundantly clear that the governor is more concerned with his presidential pipedream then the citizens of New York State. This is why the Legislature stepped up to protect New Yorkers and it is time to move forward with a democratically-approved budget designed to benefit Suffolk County and all communities across the state.