Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cuomo Says No to Bi-State Water Panel

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Cuomo Says No to Bi-State Water Panel

Article excerpt

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has torpedoed plans to create a bi- state commission to address flooding in the Hackensack River watershed in New York and North Jersey.

Governor Christie signed a bill creating the commission in January 2012, but last week Cuomo vetoed similar legislation that had been passed by the New York State Legislature.

In his veto message, Cuomo cited an estimate by the state budget division that the proposed commission would cost $600,000 a year to operate, and he noted that the bill included no means to pay for those costs.

"Given the fiscal impact of this bill, it would be better dealt with in the more comprehensive and vigorous review of the budgetary process," Cuomo wrote.

New York legislators responsible for the bill said they would redouble their efforts in January to address Cuomo's concerns and get a new version approved in Albany.

"I disagree with the governor and the budget department's analysis of the costs for this commission," said Ken Zebrowski, a New York State assemblyman from Rockland County who sponsored the legislation. "When we drafted this the entire intent was for it not to cost a dime to taxpayers." He noted that the commission members would be unpaid volunteers.

He said legislators had made changes to the bill in response to concerns raised by the Cuomo administration, even adding a provision that the commission expire after three years if it wasn't working well.

"Residents who suffer from chronic flooding to their homes deserve results," David Carlucci, a state senator from Rockland County who sponsored the bill in that chamber, said in a statement. "I will continue to work with residents throughout Rockland and with the governor to improve on the Bi-State Water Commission legislation and find innovative ways to work towards protecting flood-prone homeowners."

Carlucci and others, including state lawmakers from Bergen County, held a news conference in May along the banks of Lake Tappan urging Cuomo to sign the legislation. …

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