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Wednesday, October 1, 2014
Scannell calls for bipartisanship
After majority leader’s death, RVC county legislator says, ‘We need to come together’

Nassau County Legislator Joseph Scannell, a Democrat from Rockville Centre, said he believes that the death last week of Peter Schmitt, the Legislature’s presiding officer and majority leader, has created a need for bipartisan action that the previous Republican majority did not require.

Schmitt died on Oct. 3 after suffering a heart attack in the offices of County Executive Ed Mangano.

“It’s a devastating loss for his family and the Legislature,” Scannell said. “He was extremely smart, both governmentally and politically, and he was an amazing advocate for his district.”

Schmitt’s death temporarily shifts the balance of power in the Legislature away from Republicans just before a crucial vote on the county budget. Republicans had outnumbered Democrats 10-9. On Election Day, voters in the 12th Legislative District, which Schmitt represented, will choose his replacement.

According to Scannell, the county charter requires that the budget be passed by Oct. 29, a date chosen because of its proximity to the general election. Legislative committees are scheduled to meet on Oct. 15, and the full Legislature will meet on Oct. 29 to vote on the budget. If it is not approved, the Legislature will have to adopt the county’s 2012-13 budget as a contingency spending plan.

“The people who formed the Nassau County Legislature were smart,” Scannell said. “This way the budget is always passed a week or two before the general election. The voters get a chance to evaluate the budget and their legislators.”

Scannell said he expects there to be a flurry of negotiations in the coming weeks to arrive at a budget that satisfies members of both parties. “Now the people want both parties working together, and certainly in this instance, with [Schmitt’s] passing, we need to come together,” he said. “It’s tough. We govern on a majority, and now there is no majority in the Nassau County government.”

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