Coalition Details Up In The Air (Updated)
In his first question-and-answer session with reporters, newly re-elected Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos wouldn’t tip his hand on whether his conference would allow votes on an increase to the state’s minimum wage, but said many of the details on the new coalition government remain undetermined.
“We’re continuing to have discussions with Senator Klein,” he said. “But obviously the foundation and basic agreement is there that we will have a coalition of the Republican conference and the Independent Democratic Conference.”
Reporters quizzed Skelos on what legislation might be acted on in 2013, whether committee chairmanships would turn from a Republican lawmaker to a Democrat or who would be first in the rotation as Senate president.
On all of those answers, Skelos said much of that is still up in the air.
“We haven’t made any decisions as to what will come to the floor,” he said. “The only agreement that we have we will discuss all of the issues that are important to them, they will discuss the issues that are important to us.”
Skelos and the five-member Independent Democratic Conference forged a power-sharing agreement that allows the 31-member Republican conference to retain some control over the chamber heading into the coming legislative session.
IDC leader Jeff Klein of the Bronx is pushing a progressive friendly agenda that includes a minimum wage increase, stop and frisk reform and campaign finance law changes. All are measures that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he supports.
Skelos today would not rule out allowing a minimum wage increase measure to the floor for a vote. Earlier this year Skelos called an increase to the $7.25 minimum wage to $8.50 a “job killer.”
“All will be open for discussion,” he said this afternoon. “There’s no reason why we can’t move forward. We’ll look at different potential tax credits, business cuts that will create jobs. Our priority is to create jobs.”
Skelos said he hasn’t spoken to Cuomo since he was in his Nassau County Senate district last month to view damage from Hurricane Sandy. But Skelos also stressed that he’s worked well with Cuomo on a host of issues over the first of half his term, including a tax cap and the creation of a new pension tier.
One thing that may stay the same is legislative staff. Skelos did not envision any changes to the chamber’s budget and that aides on the Finance Committee and counsel’s office wouldn’t change.
“It’s our intention to work within the existing staff that we have — finance, counsel’s office. We have a very professional staff,” he said.
Update: Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy responds in a statement.
“The more we hear about this deal the worse news it is for the people of this state who overwhelmingly voted for progressive change. This is nothing more than the same old Republican control and conservative policies that we have had for the last two years.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on December 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|