Skelos and Cuomo Need To Move On Vets Buyback Bill Before Election Day

East Fishkill, NY - (10/27/14) - Assemblyman Kieran Michael Lalor (R,C,I - East Fishkill) is calling on State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos to finally send the veterans service credit buyback bill, which passed both houses four months ago, to Governor Cuomo for his signature. Lalor is also asking for Cuomo to sign the legislation before Election Day.

"Senator Skelos won't send the bill to the governor for his signature, the governor isn't asking for the bill and the chairman of the Senate Veterans Committee, Senator Ball, is too busy to do anything because he's playing polo in Texas," said Lalor. "It looks like this bill was a cynical empty gesture, and they don't really want to see it become law. But this bill is a good thing to do for New Yorkers who served in the military, and it's a good thing for those who will sign up to serve in the future. Senator Skelos should send it to the governor immediately. Governor Cuomo should sign it now, before Election Day."

Lalor added, "It looks like Governor Cuomo wants to veto this pro-vet, pro-military legislation, he just doesn't want to do it before Election Day. I can't think of another reason why the governor hasn't asked yet for the bill to be sent to his office for his signature. Worse, Senator Skelos is playing along and holding onto the bill, rather than passing it to the governor and demanding a yes or a no. This is a new level of cynicism for Albany."

Bill S.7839 allows veterans from any era to buy back up to three years of service credit in the public employee retirement system for their military service. Currently, New York only allows veterans who served during specific conflicts to buy back service credit. The bill passed the State Senate 57-0 and the State Assembly 133-1. The bill is supported by the AFL-CIO, NYSUT, CSEA, Police Conference of New York, DC-37, PEF, Vietnam Veterans of America, and New York State Association of PBAs.

Of the bill, Lalor said, "Those who would benefit from this bill served in the post-draft era of the all-volunteer military. They volunteered to serve on ships and in garrisons at home and abroad keeping the Soviet war machine in check, then they maintained the peace after we won the Cold War. This bill does more than honor the service of veterans. It encourages the next generation to serve by reminding them that their state values and rewards service in defense of our nation."

"Governor Cuomo had the time to sign a bill making yogurt New York's official snack, but he doesn't seem to have the time for this bill to recognize veterans," Lalor concluded. "He also hasn't had the time to sign legislation that would waive the fee for veterans' driver licenses. This bill had nearly unanimous support in both houses, and it has backing from groups ranging from public-sector unions to veterans organizations. It should have priority over the state snack bill. As for any fiscal implications of the bill, I'd be happy to sit down with Skelos and Cuomo and identify places in the budget where we could find savings."