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Bills that Cuomo liked and disliked

By Lombardo David
Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday is known fondly in the communications business as “take out the trash day,” and this was the case on Sept. 23, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed and vetoed dozens of bills.

The Daily Gazette already reported one veto, which created a $1.3 million budget gap for the Schenectady City School District, but there were also some interesting bills signed into law.

Here’s some legislation you might not know about:

RABIES

You’ll get a little more time with your animal if it’s suspected of having rabies, thanks to legislation signed by the governor.

Previously, animals believed to have come in contact with a possibly rabid animal needed to be housed in an animal shelter, veterinarian’s office or kennel, before the health of the possibly rabid animal was tested. Now that ambiguous period can occur in the pet’s home, as long as precautions are taken to prevent its escape.

The legislation, which was sponsored in the Senate by Republican Hugh Farley of Niskayuna, is designed to be an alternative for people who can’t afford the shelter or vet options and had prematurely euthanized their animal or simply sent it away.

OVERPAID TAXES

You can no longer pay it forward with your personal income taxes in New York state.

A bill signed into law on Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will make it impossible for individuals, whose prepayments and credits are more than the income tax they owe, to use that overage toward their taxes for the next year.

Passed unanimously, after two years of struggling through the Senate, this law was billed as a way to protect people from themselves. The bill’s statement in support notes there are two types of errors involved in the old model, which are people accidentally crediting their next year’s taxes and errors by the state in filing the information.

Additionally, the proponents note that sometimes a financial situation can go unexpectedly wrong and people need that refund money, which under the old model would be unavailable.

The new law includes corporate franchise tax overpayment.

SCHENECTADY’S PLIGHT

As for the veto of Schenectady’s transportation aid bill: Money is too tight to forgive the mistake the school district made years ago, Cuomo said in a veto message that will cost the school district $1.3 million.

“I understand the negative impact that the loss of these funds will have on the local school district,” Cuomo wrote, “but given the State’s fiscal condition I am constrained to disapprove this bill.”

The district will be forced to give back $1.3 million to the state this year for money it got years ago in transportation aid. The money was correctly spent, but the district made a mistake in its classified ads for competitive bids.

The district did not include the criteria that would be used to judge the bids. However, every contractor who contacted the district about the bid was given that criteria before bidding.

After the mistake was discovered, the state took back $2.5 million last year and told the district to give back the rest of the money this year.

Then the Assembly and Senate passed a bill that would have forgiven the district’s mistake and returned the money. Cuomo vetoed it, saying he knew the district could ill afford to pay back the aid — but that the state couldn’t afford to do without the cash either.

But Sen. Farley, said the state had already paid the transportation contracts and set aside the money to reimburse Schenectady. He argued that forgiving Schenectady would not hurt the state’s bottom line.

The school board president, Cathy Lewis, said the veto was a punishment that will unfairly force the district to cut $1.3 million out of the current year’s budget.

“He’s penalizing us severely. It’s not just about the $1.3 [million], it’s about the $2.5 [million] he took last year,” she said. “We can’t keep pulling rabbits out of the hat.”

Gazette reporter Kathleen Moore contributed to this blog. Reach her by email to moore@dailygazette.com. Reach Gazette reporter David Lombardo at dlombardo@dailygazette.net.

 
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