I don't have to tell anyone that political battles are often fought in the arena of public opinion, but it becomes extremely dangerous when the goal of such a campaign is to mislead and deceive. This appears to be the case with County Executive Thomas Gulotta's recent advertisement campaign evaluating the county's current fiscal standing.
Mr. Gulotta asserts that he cut spending and lowered a Democrat proposed tax increase in a "State of the County" mailing and a television ad campaign. The mailing, which cost taxpayers approximately $70,000, has a banner headline reading, "Gulotta Vetoes 15.4% Tax Increase," and is followed by a four-page "selective" analysis of the county's affairs and the past year's budgeting process.
The ad and the mailing omit the fact that Mr. Gulotta's failure to raise taxes during the past decade and his use of one-shot revenues to camouflage faulty budgeting practices have brought Nassau County - among the wealthiest in New York State - to the brink of fiscal ruin and one step away from a takeover by a state appointed oversight panel; the Nassau Interim Finance Authority.
The Democratic majority made a historic $110 million in deficit reductions this past year. Our proposed budget, which Mr. Gulotta vetoed, called for a 15.4 percent tax increase after NIFA said the county executive's budget had more than $81 million in projected cuts and revenues that could not be counted on. To balance the budget and create a four- year financial plan with a solid foundation we needed to have an ongoing source of revenue that could be counted on.
When Mr. Gulotta vetoed our budget, he removed the cornerstone for the foundation of the four-year plan. We are not out of the woods by any means. NIFA's concerns about Nassau's financial health are based on the budget and fiscal plan put forth by the county executive and we must still be aware that a state takeover can come at any time.
By not putting the events of the past year in the proper context, the county executive has jeopardized any future consensus between the Nassau County Legislature and his office. A complete "State of the County" address would have been something for the county executive to hang his hat on, but to deliberately mislead county residents is deplorable and unacceptable.