LOTS OF VETOES: Yesterday, as had been widely predicted,
Governor Pataki finished issuing vetoes on several areas of the
budget agreement passed by the Assembly and Senate, which included
between $2 and $5 billion more than the Governor had provided
for in his budget proposal.
is a list of the Governor’s vetoes that effect the mental
changing the way in which the 2.5% Cost of Living
Adjustment (COLA) would be implemented, specifically
articulating that only direct care staff was eligible for
the COLA. There still will be a 2.5% COLA implemented as the
Governor provided for in his budget proposal.
that the Legislature provided to restore programs impacted
by the $7.7M cut to Local Assistance funding
in the 2004-05 budget. If this veto is final, programs that
received cuts two years ago will not be restored.
that the Legislature provided to extend the Governor’s
proposed Medicaid wrap-around to ensure that
dual eligibles enrolled in a Medicare Part D
plan would not be out-rightly denied medications if difficulty
in accessing a drug was experienced with the Part D plan.
If this veto is final, the Medicaid wrap around will continue
until July 1, 2006, not January 14, 2007 as the Legislature’s
agreement called for.
that the Legislature provided to help with plan selection
and assistance in navigating Medicare Part D.
that the Legislature provided to ensure that physicians
have the final say in determining which medication
a Medicaid recipient shall receive, which was part of the
agreement that brought about the Preferred Drug Program in
Medicaid last year. If this veto is final, physicians will
not have the final say.
that the Legislature provided to ensure that cost
would not be a factor in determining which drugs
were placed on the list of ‘preferred’ medications
in the Preferred Drug Program’s Clinical Drug Review
Program. If this veto is final, drugs that are more costly
(possibly including mental health drugs) could be restricted
for Medicaid recipients.
for 55 scattered site supported housing apartments
to be made available to Adult Home residents
living with psychiatric disabilities.
the Legislature provided for a state increase in the
SSI rate for Adult Home residents, which would then
be linked to the Consumer Price Index. If this veto stands,
there will be no additional SSI increases for Adult Home residents.
that the Legislature provided to continue to operate Camp
Pharsalia DOCS facility, instead of transferring
it to the Office of Mental Health for purposes of establishing
a facility to civilly commit sexual offenders.
that the Legislature provided to reimburse providers of transportation
services to Medicaid eligible individuals.
that the Legislature provided to prevent individuals enrolled
in Family Health Plus from being denied services
due to an inability to pay the co-pay.
that the Legislature provided to continue to make
Family Health Plus available to people working for employers
with more than 100 employees. If this veto stands,
individuals working for employers with more than 100 employees
will not be able to participate in Family Health Plus.
that the Legislature provided to allow individuals enrolled
in Medicaid or Family Health Plus to keep their eligibility
up to 6 months, rather than being kicked off immediately
and being forced to go through the application process all
over again, which can be quite lengthy.
for additional supported housing units, mostly
in Upstate NY.
for family support services.
for 2 pilot projects to address the transitional housing
needs of children.
for telepsychiatry to better handle mental
health needs in rural areas.
for positions at Nathan Kline Institute for
for positions at NYS Psychiatric Institute.
Governor used two separate justifications in issuing the vetoes
listed above. The first is the justification he has used in previous
years, in which he claims such appropriations will “adversely
impact the State’s capacity to maintain a properly balanced
budget, provide for adequate fiscal reserves and ensure manageable
out-year budget gaps.”
second justification the Governor articulates for vetoing portions
of the budget is based on a State Court of Appeals decision a
few years ago which found that the Legislature has only limited
authority to alter the Governor’s appropriation bills, leaving
them with the authority to alter the language that stipulates
how such appropriations are to be spent (Article VII bills). Therefore,
other vetoes are accompanied by a justification that states that
some items, “represent an unconstitutional alteration of
an appropriation contained in the Executive Budget submission
and is therefore disapproved.” In these cases, the Governor
claims that his vetoes issued on a basis of unconstitutionality
are not subject to a veto override by the Legislature.
veto of funding for the $3.335 million in Local Assistance restorations
and other mental health initiatives, were vetoed for the first
reason mentioned above. If these vetoes were to be overridden
by the Legislature, these funding restorations would take effect
immediately. However, for the programs and initiatives related
to Medicaid and Family Health Plus, including the vetoes of the
Medicaid wrap around and the Preferred Drug Program changes, were
vetoed for the unconstitutional reason.
we expect that the Legislature will attempt overrides of the funding
vetoed not for unconstitutional reasons, it remains very unclear
what, if anything, will happen with regard to the vetoes issued
based on the unconstitutional reasoning. Perhaps we may see the
Legislature attempt to override the Governor on these issues vetoes
as well, which would likely drag this budget battle into court
for many years.
Silver v. Pataki is winding its way through the court system,
which challenges the Governor’s ability to include implementation
language in appropriation bills (thus making it untouchable by
the Legislature). If the outcome of this case favors the Legislature,
the vetoes that the Governor issues on grounds of unconstitutionality
would then be constitutional.
summary, most of the vetoes related to mental health (e.g. $3.335
million in Local Assistance restorations) can be overridden by
a 2/3rds vote of both the Assembly and Senate. Other vetoes in
the health arena including the ‘physician prevails’
language in the PDP and the Medicaid wrap around for dual eligibles
enrolled in Medicare Part D will likely be challenged in court
if overridden by the Legislature.
while not due to the delinquency of the budget, NYS’s budget
is once again in uncharted waters. What is unfortunate is that
the budget process will likely occupy the attention of the Legislature,
preventing them from focusing on other matters, such as Timothy’s
tuned as we will likely work to ramp up grassroots support next
week to urge the Legislature to override the Governor’s
vetoes when they return to Albany on April 24th after the Passover/Easter
Vetoes Albany Spending and Tax Breaks. By Danny Hakim
The New York Times, April 13, 2006
April 12 — Gov. George E. Pataki has vetoed nearly $3 billion
worth of tax cuts and spending initiatives from the Legislature's
budget, saying on Wednesday that they would lead to irresponsible
the current fiscal year, his vetoes of tax cuts worth more than
$1 billion struck down rebate checks for property owners, a new
child tax credit and the elimination of a tax provision felt by
married couples. His spending cuts included $650 million from
Medicaid alone and $500 million from the State University of New
Pataki's 202 separate vetoes were a striking exercise of power
by a lame-duck Republican governor considering a future in national
politics, and they suggested that he was trying to establish an
image of fiscal conservatism in his final year in office. [News
analysis, Page B7.]
his wholesale rejection of the Legislature's tax cuts has enraged
fellow Republicans in the Senate.
cannot believe he's vetoed something like $4 billion in tax cuts,"
said Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader, referring to
the value of the Legislature's tax cut packages over two years.
"I can't for the life of me understand what he's doing."
Pataki issued the vetoes after lawmakers rejected his more limited
tax cut plan, and he was emboldened by a recent court ruling establishing
the administration's vast powers over the state budget, which
is now at $112.8 billion. In fact, Mr. Pataki's actions set the
stage for a potentially bruising legal fight with the Legislature
that could leave the final shape of the budget in doubt for months.
governor maintains that courts have established that the Legislature
does not have the power to override most of his vetoes. Legislative
leaders sharply disagree, and a prominent health workers' union
and a hospital association have threatened to sue over the Medicaid
Pataki did not rule out negotiating further with the Legislature
and possibly amending the budget in the coming months, though
communications between the sides are increasingly fractious. Lawmakers
will certainly try to override many of the vetoes, although the
administration appears poised to battle some overrides in court.
governor appeared ready for any outcome.
been sued so many times," he said at a news conference on
Wednesday when asked about the possibility. "I expect that
there will be more."
are vetoes that I would have preferred not to have to make,"
he said, adding that the Legislature's budget created "fiscal
difficulties, very real ones for this state."
Speaker Sheldon Silver, Mr. Pataki's chief Democratic antagonist
in the Legislature, said he did not concede the governor's contention
that lawmakers could not override him. He has repeatedly referred
to Mr. Pataki as "the governor of technicalities" for
finding legal problems with the Legislature's budget as justification
for his vetoes.
the recent court ruling, the Legislature cannot alter the language
of the governor's budget proposals, only specific appropriations.
As a result, lawmakers are limited in making substantive changes
to the governor's budget.
Silver appeared to come out better than Mr. Bruno in the budget
battle. The governor did not veto the $11.2 billion bonding plan
to finance construction of New York City schools, which has been
the top priority of Mr. Silver, who represents Lower Manhattan.
Senate Republicans, on the other hand, saw the governor veto their
main priority, the property tax rebate checks that would have
been mailed shortly before the November election. Those rebates
were considered a way to please the Senate Republicans' upstate
base and hold on to their majority.
Pataki's vetoes began shortly before midnight Monday and continued
into Wednesday afternoon.
reinstating $650 million in cuts to Medicaid that were in his
original executive budget, he eliminated the practice by which
married couples who normally would not qualify for Medicaid can
qualify for benefits for the ailing spouse by transferring their
assets to the healthy spouse. He also made it harder for Medicaid
recipients to receive prescriptions that are not on the state's
preferred drug list. His cuts to Medicaid would be in effect for
a year, through next April.
cut nearly $120 million to tuition assistance programs, halting
financial aid payments to college students who default on loans
or do not meet more stringent course credit requirements. His
$500 million aid cut to SUNY was mostly designated for building
than $2 million was cut from Legal Aid programs around the state,
as was $19 million earmarked for the Metropolitan Transportation
Pataki also vetoed an often-maligned $200 million fund that he
and the Legislature have traditionally used for secretive "pork
barrel" spending, but he did not veto a similar appropriation
used for capital projects.
were many cuts to such diverse projects as the Staten Island Ferry,
a PBS documentary on the Erie Canal and a rabies research center
at Cornell University.
Pataki also blocked a legislative attempt to grab control of more
than $150 million collected by utilities each year and used to
support energy conservation and clean energy programs in the state.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority currently
selects the projects to be financed by the program, and environmentalists
supported keeping the money in the authority's hands and out of
the budget process.
was the governor's veto of the broad package of tax cuts that
struck at the heart of the Legislature's budget proposal. Mr.
Pataki did not object to all the tax cuts but said he was required
to veto the entire package if he wanted to strike any one item.
governor's playing political hardball," said Blair Horner,
the legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research
Group. "This is major league hardball, it's not Triple A,
and he has apparently chosen to make this the year he's going
to dig in."
vetoes capped a period of worsening relations between the governor
and leaders of the Legislature.
Wednesday, Mr. Pataki swung back at comments Mr. Silver made Tuesday
suggesting the governor would deliberately reveal his vetoes after
the beginning of Passover, Wednesday evening. That would have
meant that Mr. Silver, an Orthodox Jew, could not respond.
me that's extremely disappointing, because I think it's just wrong
to challenge somebody doing their job when it's an incredibly
difficult job and making some sort of a religious allegation that
this is somehow anti-Semitic," Mr. Pataki said. "It
is wrong and it is beneath the speaker. He knows that I have gone
out of my way to be cognizant of his observation, as I am of all
religious peoples' observations."
it happened, the governor announced his vetoes early in the afternoon
Silver said he never called the governor anti-Semitic. "That's
typical of what this governor is doing," he said. "He
doesn't want to talk about substance, he doesn't want to talk
about dropping people from health care, he'd rather talk about
technicalities and his interpretation of things that were said."
his part, Mr. Bruno offered a blunt assessment of the state of
affairs in an interview on WROW, an Albany radio station.
governor is well intentioned, the Assembly is well intentioned,
we're well intentioned," he said. "And the road to hell
is paved with good intentions."
DePalma contributed reporting for this article.