As Laura Incalcaterra and James O’Rourke report in today’s Journal News, the state Senate failed to vote on legislation yesterday that would have allowed Rockland County to borrow $80 million to reduce its $95 million deficit and charge a 4 percent residential energy tax to pay off the loan.
The bill passed 118-9 in the Assembly but died in the Senate yesterday, the last day of the Legislature’s regular session. In order to borrow the money, the county needed state home-rule approval from lawmakers.
“I believe the deficit bond proposal was a much better alternative than having to raise taxes on Rockland County’s working families. Unfortunately, the Senate majority has decided to refuse to do deficit financing anywhere throughout the state,” Sen. David Carlucci, D-New City, said in a statement issued last night.
Moody’s Investors Service downgraded the county’s credit rating last month to Baa3 with a negative outlook, one step above junk status and the lowest of any county in New York.
On Wednesday, Moody’s declined to downgrade the county’s rating to junk status because of work it has done in recent weeks to improve its finances. The company said this week a review that was a result of a negative watch it placed Rockland County on last month. A negative watch triggered a 30- to 60-day watch for an imminent downgrade.
It remains to be seen whether there are further actions as a result of the Senate’s inaction on the bill.
The Senate opposed requests from Rockland and several other counties this session to increase their sales taxes.