As the New York State legislative session winds to a close, officials from Nassau and Suffolk counties yesterday pleaded with Gov. Mario M. Cuomo to approve their plans to close budget gaps with deficit bonds.
Both counties want to issue the bonds and enact other measures such as layoffs and avoid an unpopular property tax to close budget gaps of about $100 million.
But last weekend, the counties' efforts hit a snag when Mr. Cuomo said he was not enthusiastic about the deficit financing proposals, and that he may not sign the legislation even if the plan is approved by both houses. The Legislature has yet to vote on the measures.
William Stevens, spokesman for the Republican-controlled Senate, said it is in favor of both counties' deficit plans.
The Democrat-controlled Assembly supports deficit financing with control boards to monitor the counties, Charles Carrier, an Assembly spokesman, said.
Charles Porcari, a press officer for Mr. Cuomo, said the governor "is obviously aware of the situation" in Nassau and Suffolk counties. He added that Mr. Cuomo told Nassau County executive Thomas S. Gulotta and Suffolk County executive Robert Gaffney during yesterday's meeting with the governor that "he's not sure they need to do deficit financing."
Mr. Porcari said the governor told both executives that, "It remains to be seen whether they really need [the deficit bonds] or they just don't want to make the kind of cuts they need to make."
Instead, Mr. Cuomo said he would like to attach any deficit bond legislation to his plan to have the state take over all Medicaid costs, a plan opposed by Republican Ralph J. Marino, majority leader of the state Senate. This woul help relieve municipalities' budget problems, he said.
Sensing that politics could scuttle their efforts to plug budget gaps as the legislation calendar comes to a close, Mr. Gaffney and Mr. Gulotta decided over the weekend to meet with Mr. Cuomo as soon as possible. The state legislative session traditionally ends before the July 4 holiday weekend, which is Friday.
The end-of-session lobbying to gain state approval is nothing new for local politicians. This year, however, the lobbying appears to have taken a much more pressing tone as a severe regional recession has forced an unprecedented number of municipalities to seek state legislation to issue deficit bonds.
According to the New York State comptroller's office, as many as 17 local governments may ask for legislative approval to sell deficit bonds. But among those municipalities, the need for deficit financing appears most pressing in the affluent New York City suburbs of Nassau and Suffolk counties.
While most municipalities are seeking legislative approval to issue under $10 million in deficit bonds, Suffolk is requesting state approval to issue up to $91 million in county bonds to close a deficit estimated at about $91 million on its $1.3 billion budget for 1992 fiscal year, ending Dec. 31.
Nassau, for its part, is asking lawmakers to approve a borrowing of up to $71 million to help close a $131 million deficit in Nassau's $1.8 billion budget for fiscal 1992, which ends Dec. 31.
Nassau's and Suffolk's deficit financing faced yet another legislative hurdle yesterday, when Democrats in the state's assembly demanded that each establish a financial control board to monitor the counties' budget problems.
Democratic state Assemblymen Thomas DiNapoli of Great Neck and Paul Harenberg of Haupauge introduced legislation that would link any deficit financing plans to the creation of a control board, an assembly spokesman said.
Spokesmen for the Nassau and Suffolk county executives said they oppose the linkage.
In a separate issue, officials from the governor's office, the state Senate, and the state Assembly will likely meet today or tomorrow in three-way meeting to reach a compromise on Mr. Cuomo's $800 million Jobs for The New, New York Bond Act. Even if it passes, it still has to be approved by voters.