ALBANY (July 6, 2009)—State Sen. Darrel J. Aubertine filed suit today in state Supreme Court to compel the Assembly to deliver bills passed on Tuesday, June 30, including Power For Jobs and home rule legislation, to the Governor for action.
“The hundreds of businesses enrolled in the Power For Jobs program with more than a quarter of a million employees across the state need this legislation signed into law. Taxpayers in my district and across the state need these home rule bills enacted,” Sen. Aubertine said. “My colleagues and I voted to protect these jobs and give our localities the resources they need to keep property taxes in check. Under the rules of the Senate, our votes count. The Assembly does not have the constitutional authority to say otherwise.”
On June 29, Senate Democrats, using a proposal first put forth by Senator Aubertine, offered to let any Republican preside over the chamber to pass these bills. Though the Espada-led conference turned down this offer to instead continue fighting over leadership, one Republican Senator did provide quorum needed on June 30. This suit contends that the quorum is legal and the Assembly must accept the bills.
“These bills must be delivered to the Governor,” the Senator added. “Further delay by the Assembly puts jobs, our school districts and the state’s taxpayers at risk. These bills must go to the governor’s desk for his signature and if he chooses to veto these bills, he’s choosing to continue this crisis over protecting jobs and saving taxpayers. This fight over political power has gone on long enough. Regardless of how that plays out, these important bills were passed legally. The people of my district and the entire state do not deserve to have their issues held hostage in a power struggle.”
The suit filed today contends that the Assembly does not have the authority to withhold delivery of close to 120 pieces of critical legislation passed on June 30 to the Governor. Citing numerous cases, the Senator contends that once the Senate has a quorum, as it did, the votes of the Senators must be accepted and the Assembly must deliver the bills to the Governor.
“This lawsuit has nothing whatsoever to do with who holds what title in the State Senate. This is about doing what the people we represent need done. Settling this leadership squabble needs to take a back seat,” Sen. Aubertine said. “The people I represent do not care about who holds the gavel, they care about their jobs and their taxes. Action is required here. Inaction carries consequences. This lawsuit asks the courts to finally put the people’s business ahead of all the political posturing we’ve seen over the last month.”
If the Assembly is allowed to disenfranchise this Senate vote, it could cost the 570 businesses in the Power For Jobs program about $10 million a month and cost utilities around $1 million to accommodate changes. This added cost is a burden that could force some businesses to eliminate jobs.
“My vote was a vote for jobs in my district and throughout this state and shame on anyone who would contest this lawsuit,” Sen. Aubertine said. “We are seeking a ruling to protect our taxpayers and jobs for the people we represent. Shame on anyone who puts their own political power before these critical pieces of legislation. We need to get the Legislature back on track and get back to work. The things that hang in the balance here, Power For Jobs, home rule legislation, and all the other important bills we passed, must be accepted so the business of the state can move on.”
In addition to Power For Jobs and home rule legislation, the following bills are among those passed by the Senate and slated for delivery to the Governor:
- S.5638—Federal Education and Homeless Funding/No Child Left Behind, legislation which would secure $2.2 billion in federal stimulus money for education.
- S.5884—Federal Funding for Individuals with Disabilities, which would secure $1.5 billion in federal stimulus money over three years.
- A.8893—Medicaid Compliance for School Supportive Health Services, which would provide $175 million in federal stimulus funding for Medicaid reimbursements to school districts.
- S.5765—Provisional Hiring of School Employees, which would free up school districts to hire an employee after initial background checks for 45 days with FBI clearance pending.
- S.5462-A—School Reimbursement for Days Closed Due to Swine Flu/H1N1, which would give school districts an extra five days to work with and still receive full state funding.
- S.6051—County Veterans Programs, which would provide additional funding to counties for services provided to veterans.
- S.5957—Public Broadcasting Facilities Assistance, extends for one more year an opportunity for public broadcasters to tap into a $15 million fund created in 2005.