Cayuga County Legislature votes 10-2 to urge state to require welfare recipients to be residents

David J. Valesky

April 17, 2014

March 27, 2014 6:05 am Samantha House |

AUBURN | When it comes to welfare benefits, most local legislators believe state assistance should only be extended to residents.

On Tuesday evening, during the Cayuga County Legislature's full monthly meeting, legislators voted 10-2 to support a resolution urging New York to a establish a residency requirement for people seeking to obtain welfare benefits.

The resolution sparked debate among legislators — two of whom questioned the matter's underlying claims.

According to the resolution's text, the lack of a residency requirement has attracted out-of-state residents to move to New York to quickly obtain state aid, including Medicaid.

"Other states throughout the county have been known to send people to New York State to receive said benefits," the resolution stated. "Cayuga County has experienced an influx of out-of-state residents to receive said benefits, resulting in a significant increase in local costs."

Legislator Keith Batman motioned to table the resolution, stating that evidence hadn't been submitted to support its claims.

"I submit that we don't know this," he said. "I think that is based, simply, on faulty assumptions."

Legislator Ryan Foley agreed, stating that no one had consulted with Elane Daly, the county's director of health and human services, to verify the resolution's assertion that Cayuga County was burdened by residents who move to New York in search of welfare benefits.

"I don't know why we're making resolutions based on opinion," Foley said. "They should be based on facts."

Although he said he was "all in favor of helping," Legislator Tim Lattimore said he wanted New York to give out the same level of benefits doled out by surrounding states rather than assuming total responsibility for residents.

"The balance should be there," he said.

The resolution seeking a residency requirement is not new — and has been chewed on and passed by multiple New York counties over the past few years.

After voting against tabling the resolution, the Legislature approved forwarding a copy of the resolution to Gov. Andrew Cuomo; state senators Michael Nozzolio, David Valesky, James Seward and John DeFrancisco; assemblymen Gary Finch, Robert Oaks and Brian Kolb; and the New York State Association of Counties.

Legislators Lattimore, Mark Farrell, Tucker Whitman, Joseph Runkle, Hans Pecher, Terry Baxter, Joseph Bennett, Patrick Mahunik, Mike Didio and Michael Chapman voted in favor of the resolution. Legislators Batman and Foley voted against it.

Legislators Frank Reginelli, Ben Vitale and Paul Pinckney were not present.