Rockland County Legislator Ed Day has submitted a resolution opposing pending state legislation that, if passed, would cost Rockland taxpayers nearly $1.5 million.
At issue is pending legislation (S01461/A0689) that would establish early voting in New York State. The stated purpose is to enhance and improve upon voter rates and involvement in the electoral process. Day complains that the process of implementation at the local level is vaguely addressed in the bill, and includes open-ended language such as “other unstated costs” with respect to the fiscal implications of the legislation.
“It is bad enough that mandate relief is moving at a snail’s pace. But when state legislators ignore the will of their constituents and keep churning out wonderful sounding ideas without a thought to costs, we need to draw a line and call them out on it,” said Legislator Day.
Rockland County Commissioner of Elections Louis Babcock informed Legislator Day that the first year costs to local taxpayers is approximately $1.5 million, an amount that is nearly equal to the entire amount allowed under the 2 percent property tax cap. In addition, there are significant yearly costs associated with the legislation, all borne by Rockland taxpayers.
“This is not a debate about the merits of early voting. That is not the issue,” observed Legislator Day. “The issue here is a failure of certain state representatives doing the hard work to make a budget work just like all of their constituents must do with their own budgets. The average person cannot pop out an idea and then ask their next-door neighbor to pay for it. A state legislator should identify efficiencies that will fund their legislation instead of dumping the costs on local taxpayers.”
Day’s resolution, which expresses opposition to the initiative unless funding is found at the state level, has the support of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC). Similar legislation has passed or is pending in over a dozen NY counties.
In closing, Day stated that “I have previously had this focused conversation with our state representatives, and asked them to simply do what every citizen here must do; consider the costs when you take action. How any representative can look at the fiscal implication section of this bill and not ask that question is absolutely beyond me. I am asking our state legislators to find savings – possibly within the State Board of Elections budget, which they do control, apply those efficiencies to this bill and then bring the matter up again. If they cannot do that, then I would ask they remove their names from sponsorship and vote down the legislation.”