FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 14, 2013
Contact: Tom Staudter | ThomasS@westchesterlegislators.com | 914-995-2819 (office) | 914-419-5221 (cell)
Westchester Democratic Legislators Note County Executive Astorino Keeps Walking Back From His Bad Budget
White Plains, NY – First, the funding he cut for food assistance and hunger relief programs was restored with great pomp—after outcry from members of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL), community leaders and not-for-profit volunteers. Yesterday, it was the “rescue” of the ten cultural heritage festivals at Kensico Dam Plaza ($25,000 of the $100,000 annual cost donated by Friends of Westchester Parks, supplemented by the funding “found” in the budget); and today it’s announcement about funding for the Westchester Hispanic Coalition—both items added to the budget by the BOL Democratic caucus and cut by County Executive Astorino.
The fact is Astorino has been walking back, step by step, from the bad 2013 County Budget that he signed immediately after it was hastily passed by the Republican BOL members and two misguided Democrats.
“The County Executive realizes that his budget is not right for Westchester because the program cuts and layoffs are hurting people and affecting the quality of life here,” said Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), chair of the BOL Community Services Committee. “Maintaining support for initiatives that help seniors, working mothers, victims of domestic violence and at-risk youth in the first place would have been the smarter idea.”
And as Astorino keeps walking back from his bad 2013 budget, he continues to roll out announcements of “new” funding without acknowledging that he’s simply repairing the damage made by his own poor budgetary decisions.
“I think County Executive Astorino maliciously cut vital programs so that he could roll out a press conference every few days touting the funding restorations for political purposes,” said Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont), chair of the BOL Budget & Appropriations Committee.
“Correcting mistakes in a budget after the fact is what happens when the decisions are made behind closed doors, and without public hearings and input from all seventeen legislators,” said Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson). “These were bad budget decisions to begin with, and now an attempt is being made to repair the damage.”
The 2013 budget proposed by the BOL Democratic caucus funded a full array of social and cultural programs, including child care subsidies and youth programs, all without layoffs—and without raising taxes.
It should be mentioned that Astorino has yet to take credit for quietly rehiring, by March 2013, twenty eligibility examiners at the County’s Department of Social Services (DSS), as well handing out generous pay raises to his staff members, after abolishing 28 full-time examiners from the adopted 2013 County Budget.
“This is the result of a hastily adopted Astorino budget by the Republican caucus,” said BOL Majority Leader Pete Harckham (D-Katonah). “Had the budget been returned to the Committee on Budget and Appropriations, rather than forcing it through on the floor, these obvious omissions would have been avoided. Now, we’re seeing that our caucus’s budget decisions were the best ones from the get-go. Let’s hope that the County Executive keeps walking back to our budget and decides to restore funding for some of the other safety net initiatives he cut, like foreclosure prevention assistance, child care scholarships and neighborhood health centers.”
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