Weekly Feature

2015-11-04 / Editorial

Help override governor’s veto of veterans bill

New York Assemblyman

November is an important month to Americans for many reasons. We are able to exercise our right to vote on Election Day, we give thanks and spend quality time with our loved ones on Thanksgiving, and we honor our nation’s heroes who bravely fought for our freedoms on Veterans Day.

Unfortunately, for the second consecutive year, Gov. Cuomo has decided to veto critical legislation for our veterans shortly before the very day we honor them.

The bill, known as the veterans’ buyback bill, set out to allow any honorably discharged veteran who works in the public retirement system to buy back up to three years of retirement service credit for their military service.

Current law only allows those who served during specific conflicts to buy back service credit, leaving others, like Cold War and Afghanistan veterans, who performed the same brave duties at other times, out in the cold.

The new legislation would have amended the law to put all veterans from all eras and conflicts on equal footing to receive the same benefits.

Gov. Cuomo shamefully vetoed this honorable and essential program for the second time last week.

Last year, when Gov. Cuomo vetoed a similar bill, he cited the need for the Legislature to appropriate funds to buy back all of the credit. The Legislature responded this past session by introducing the bill again with a funding mechanism to accomplish what the governor asked. Gov. Cuomo was clearly disingenuous in his reasoning and determined to block this critical legislation, because he vetoed it again this year anyway.

In a state with a $150 billion budget, it’s unconscionable that we can’t secure the funds for a program to support our veterans.

Gov. Cuomo shamelessly advocates for prisoners to get a free college education and illegal aliens taxpayer funded tuition, all the while claiming we can’t afford this small cost to benefit the courageous men and women who served our country; it doesn’t add up.

This program has wide-ranging, bipartisan support; we should not sit idly by and accept the governor’s shameful veto.

The Assembly Minority Conference has launched a petition to urge the Legislature to reconvene and override the veto.

It’s time to send a message to Gov. Cuomo: Our veterans deserve better. Help support our heroes and sign the petition at http://bit.ly/Over rideCuomo.

If you would like more information about this petition or any state issues, please do not hesitate to email me at walterr@assem bly.state.ny.us, call me at 634-1895 or visit my office at 5555 Main St., Williamsville.

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