Last Tuesday the Rockland County Legislature worked toward reducing taxes and creating more job opportunities for the more vulnerable residents of the county.
The budget and finance committee began their regular assembly by moving to urge Congress to repeal the cap on state and local tax deduction (SALT.) This tax law most affects states like New York with higher tax burdens on property, and within those states, most affects residents who qualify to itemize the highest number of tax deductions. As of now, only 15% of state taxpayers qualify for a $10,000 deduction, and very few of them reside in Rockland, meaning county residents could be hit hard during tax season. State representatives are concerned that this will cause residents to relocate from New York, and seventeen of them have stated their intention to oppose any infrastructure or tax bill that does not contain a repeal of SALT.
The New York State Office for the Aging has reported that a grant of $120,899 has been awarded to the County office to provide disaster relief to senior residents who have been most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A public hearing was held on the Fair Chance in Employment Act which has been sent to all state legislative offices and the NAACP for approval. This law would prohibit employers from carrying out background checks until employment is contracted, preventing them from using applicants’ conviction records against them. All requested edits to the draft have been made, and according to Legislator Toney Earl, the county attorney reported that there are no legal barriers to implementing this law. “We have a real opportunity to change peoples’ lives for the better. The ability to secure employment is the biggest factor to preventing re-offending, homelessness, and food insecurity,” said Earl. He also reported that one in three, or 70 million potential skilled workers in the United States, have conviction records, creating needless barriers to employment. The bill was carried unanimously.
Before Tuesday’s meeting officially commenced, the legislature took time to recognize four county healthcare professionals for their contributions to Rockland. Mark Geller, Kathy Lunney, Mary Leahy, and Phyllis Yezzo, were honored with Distinguished Service Awards for their work combatting the COVID-19 pandemic. All four thanked the community and their respective hospital teams for putting in hours of hard work and compassion during some of the most difficult months of the pandemic.