NY Legislature

The New York Assembly Chamber.

Associated Press file

The state Assembly and Senate are in agreement that municipalities should have the option of offering a better retirement plan to officers who work in county jails.

The idea is to give officers who work in jails a pension after 20 years of service — a benefit that's more comparable to other positions in law enforcement. It seems like a logical and fair move to make, and it could become an important tool for recruiting and retaining quality employees.

So what's the problem?

Providing the benefit statewide could cost $100 million a year, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in vetoing the legislation, said that because the change would include a fiscal impact, it needs to be weighed as part of the overall agreement on the next state budget.

But Cuomo's veto comes despite overwhelming bipartisan support from both houses of the Legislature. The Assembly approved the bill 140-3, and the Senate supported in 58-1.

So what's a Legislature to do?

Well, the common response of lawmakers to vetoes has been to say, "we'll just have to try again next year." But that's clearly not working with this measure. This is the second straight year Cuomo has vetoed the proposal.

Rather than sit back and complain about Cuomo, the Legislature has a tool that it rarely uses but should start considering: the veto override. It takes 2/3 of both houses to overturn a veto by the governor, and this measure clearly has that much support behind.

Cuomo's ultimate goal seems to get almost every piece of meaningful legislation rolled into budget process, but that's not how the Legislature is supposed to operate.

A veto override would take political will and actual effort to be successful. But we see this as a perfect opportunity to stand up to Cuomo's strong-arm tactics and pass an important piece of legislation — whether the governor likes it or not.

The Citizen editorial board includes publisher Rob Forcey, executive editor Jeremy Boyer and managing editor Mike Dowd.

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