So Close, Yet so Far

New York Governor slams the door on state VOB legislation

As anyone who’s ever tried to get legislation passed can attest, the process is long and arduous and generally takes years before legislation becomes law. The process of writing the legislation, finding legislators to sponsor it and going through the amendments and modifications as it travels from committee to committee is laborious to say the least.

Tack on the fact that most state legislatures (with the exception of Nebraska) have two houses, and the process is doubled. But, when a bill is passed through both the house and the senate, the only thing left is executive approval. In the case of state governments, the final approval rests with the governor.

This exact scenario unfolded in the state of New York as Gov. David Paterson sat at his desk to review pending legislation and came across Assembly Bill 8555-A, the  New York State Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business Enterprise Opportunity Act. This bill was passed by the State Assembly on June 16, 2009 and a month later was passed by the State Senate and sent to the governor for final approval.

Shot Down

 Paterson rendered his decision September 16, 2009 and sent the bill back to the Assembly with Veto #76. Apparently, the specifics of what the bill intended to accomplish were the catalyst for the veto. For example, the bill would create a state-wide certification program and essentially offer a 6 percent pricing preference to SDVOBs. In other words, so long as an SDVOSB’s bid was no greater than 6 percent above the lowest responsive bidder’s price, the SDVOB was still given preference, similar to the program in Maryland. Paterson stated that this bill would basically cost the state too much money.

"I am constrained to veto this legislation, as it would impose a fiscal cost on the State, is at odds with the State's policy of competitive bidding and is duplicative of other programs.”

The other programs Paterson cites as “duplicative” include Chapter 387 of the Laws of 2008 which requires the state Office of General Services (OGS), together with the State Comptroller, to conduct annual statewide seminars advising veteran-owned businesses regarding the opportunities available for obtaining procurement contracts from New York State agencies, municipalities and authorities.

Advice vs. Preference

This “duplication” is rather confusing because these efforts mention “advising” veteran-owned businesses, but includes nothing about providing the same procurement preferences and mandates the state provides to businesses owned by women and minorities.

Paterson’s gubernatorial ratings have been some of the worst in the history of New York, but he still plans to run for re-election in 2010. With Veto 76, Paterson sent a clear message to New York’s vetrepreneurs. This election season, they need to send a clear message back and elect a more vetrepreneur-friendly governor in Paterson’s predecessor.

Full Download! To read the official veto, visit



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