(UnitedVoice.com) – Organized retail theft is a major problem across the country. These crimes are carried out by mobs of criminals who descend on stores, generally luxury brands, and steal as much as they can. The goods are then sold on the black market at a discounted price.
New York is one of the states hardest hit by the thefts. Retailers in the Empire State lost billions of dollars in the last year. The Democratic governor recently vetoed a proposal that might have helped tackle the problem.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) is taking heat for vetoing a retail crime task force proposal. It would have established a 15-person panel of experts that would look for solutions to tackle the problem that cost retailers $4.4 billion in 2022.
On November 20, the Retail Council of New York State issued a press release about the veto. President and CEO Melissa O’Connor said retailers in the state were “extremely disappointed” by the governor’s decision to veto the bill. It would have established the New York State Organized Retail Crime Task Force, a move supported by Democrats and Republicans. She explained that it’s not just the money that’s being lost, it’s also about the “community safety implications.”
O’Connor pointed out that in order to address the retail theft problem, they need “interagency coordination and consistent communication among all stakeholders, including the retail industry.” She said she spoke with the governor and expressed the “need for immediate action and an effective, collaborative response to this problem.”
Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon (D) was also disappointed by the governor’s decision to “not sign [the] legislation.” She said it was important for lawmakers to support businesses across the state and create a “safer environment” for retailers and customers.
Governor Cites Budgetary Reasons
The governor didn’t just veto the bill to establish the retail task force; she issued a blanket veto for all of the bills that sought to establish task forces, commissions, and offices. It was the second year in a row that she issued such a veto. The governor claimed she made the decision because the bills would cost millions of dollars that had not been budgeted.
In a statement to the New York Post, a spokesperson for the governor claimed the retail task force would cost $35 million. That money was not allotted for or available. Hochul asked lawmakers to address their task force requests within the budget.
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