In response to Democratic legislators who in recent weeks have called his 2012 budget plan a "bad joke," and Republican legislators who have likewise called the plan inadequate, County Executive Steve Levy defended his plan on Friday.
He also called on the legislature to stray from using "one-shot gimmicks."
“My budget includes pragmatic steps that would generate an additional $50 million in recurring savings through measures including employee healthcare contributions and closure of the nursing home,” said Levy.
“However, the legislature thus far is talking only about ‘one-shot gimmicks,’ such as selling the county’s jail and buildings and then leasing them back from a third party," he continued.
According to a Newsday report, the county executive has stated that 464 jobs could be saved if county employees agree to collectively chip in $31 million to their health premiums.
Currently, county employees don’t contribute to their health care plans.
Gail Vizzini, the director of the Office of Legislative Budget Review, questioned at an October 11 legislature meeting whether or not those revenues would be realized.
Vizzini called Levy's plan "precipitously balanced on inflated revenue and understated expenditures. But that's my opinion."
An October 14 report issued from Vizzini's office (which is attached as a PDF) estimated Levy's budget to contain a $135.4 million shortfall.
Reports Whooping Cough More Than Triple in 2011
The Suffolk County Health Department commissioner said on Friday that the number of cases have more than tripled this year compared to 2010, and cautioned residents about the , which could, in severe cases, prove to be fatal.
“In order to contain the spread of infection, we ask health care providers to consider pertussis as a possible diagnosis when patients present with cold-like symptoms and a dry cough,” said Dr. James Tomarken, commissioner of the SCDHS.
“Early detection and appropriate antibiotic treatment is the key to minimizing symptoms and containing the spread of the infection,” he said.
The county health department has reported 179 incidents of pertussis so far this year, compared to 54 last year and 75 in 2009.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a few factors have played into the recent increase in cases, including better recognition of the infection and a waning immunity to the .
Nationwide, roughly 27,500 cases were reported in 2010, from just less than 17,000 in 2009.
While whooping cough could affect people of all ages, a higher percentage of cases is found in adolescents and infants, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Parents and physicians who’ve questions about pertussis may contact the Suffolk County Department of Health Services’ Division of Public Health at 631-853-3055.