Governor Cuomo spent the early part of this week in a marathon bill signing, and vetoing, session. The governor rejected an unusually high number of bills and some supporters of the vetoed measures aren’t pleased.
Cuomo vetoed 72 of the 133 bills that were sent to him just before the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Normally, the legislature parcels out the bills passed at the end of the legislative session over the next six months, so that the governor has time to carefully consider each one. But Cuomo and lawmakers have been feuding over whether legislators should get a pay raise. The Senate and Assembly decided to send him all the bills at once. They deny that there’s any connection between the two incidents.
The Buffalo News quotes one lawmaker as calling it the “Monday night massacre”, but Cuomo says he doesn’t think he vetoed a higher than average portion of the bills.
“It was a bill by bill choice,” said Cuomo. “I don’t know the usual ratio of signing to vetoes, but I don’t think it was extraordinary.”
One veto that’s received the most attention is the rejection of a measure to make it easier for farmers to donate produce to food banks, It would have granted each farm an up to $5000 tax credit for donating fresh vegetables and meats to food banks to feed the hungry. A wide coalition supported it, including anti-hunger groups, environmentalists and the New York farm bureau. Spokesman Steve Ammerman finds the veto “baffling”.
“We’re incredibly disappointed,” Ammerman said. “Because there was so much support behind this.”
Ammerman says the benefits of the legislation would be “far-reaching.” He says needy people would get better quality food, and farmers would see some of the costs associated with picking and shipping the items offset on their taxes.
Governor Cuomo when asked about the veto, says he agrees with the idea, but says the measure was flawed.
“Let’s give every farm five thousand dollars,” Cuomo said. “Great. I support that concept. But one question, where does the five thousand dollars come from?”
Cuomo says the allocation needs to be part of the overall state spending plan.
“We do a budget in this state,” Cuomo aid. “This was not in the budget.”
The cost of the tax credit is estimated to be $300,000 to $800,000 out of a $135 billion dollar budget.
Cuomo and the farm bureau disagreed earlier this year when the governor decided not to defend that state against a New York Civil Liberties Union lawsuit that would permit farm workers to form a union. The farm bureau went to court and has been granted the right to pursue the case. The group also opposed Governor Cuomo’s plan to phase in a higher minimum wage in New York, saying it would be too expensive for farms operating on the margin.
Ammerman says he hopes the veto is not related to the disputes, and really is about the measure not being part of the state budget. He says farmers hope that the governor can be convinced to add the provision into his new budget plan in January.