YONKERS, N.Y. – While it wasn’t easy to stray from party lines, Westchester County Legislator Virginia Perez said Monday she is satisfied with the results of last week’s county budget vote.
“It was difficult but at the end of the day I felt it was the right thing to do,” the Yonkers Democrat said.
Perez was one of two democrats, the other being Michael Kaplowitz (Somers), who crossed the aisle Friday on a vote of the 2013 Westchester County budget. Together, the pair joined seven Republicans to pass the $1.7 billion spending plan after eight democrats walked out of the chamber.
Following the vote, legislator Chair Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers) had some harsh words for the Republican legislators and the two breakaway democrats.
"Today's actions of the Republican legislators, along with that of Legislator Perez and Legislator Kaplowitz, were despicable and made a mockery of the legislative process," he said.
Perez said Monday her decision was motivated by a loyalty to her constituents and said the passed budget was more preferable than the alternative of a wholesale veto or a fiscal standoff.
In the end, what the Republicans proposed was a “reasonable budget that benefits the entire county,” she said.
While it wasn't perfect, Perez said she considered the plan a compromise, pointing specifically to the lowering of the parent share of subsidized childcare from 35 percent in County Executive Robert Astorino's proposed budget to 27 percent.
Perez said she was also pleased legislators were able to restore at least 30 of the 126 jobs cut in the proposed spending plan.
“It’s not perfect and it’s not an ideal budget but it’s manageable and doable and it was a good meeting of the minds,” she said.
Perez said Monday she hopes the two parties can continue to work together in the future and said she would like to see other Democrats jump on board so future meetings “aren’t as chaotic.”
As for Jenkins' harsh words, Perez said it wouldn't be an issue moving forward.
“We all have personal friendships and we have to compartmentalize,” she said.
Still, Perez said there have been talks among the Democratic Party that she would face a primary opponent as a result of her vote. Having already survived one primary, Perez said the idea of another doesn’t concern her.
“It doesn’t intimidate me at all,” she said. “I thrive on a challenge so if there is one, so be it.”
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