Stewart-Cousins: Majority Coalition Didn’t Deliver On Ethics
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins blamed the coalition of Republicans and four independent Democrats for the failure to pass an ethics package in 2013 as well as a compromised version of the minimum wage.
Stewart-Cousins, a Yonkers Democrat, told Brian Lehrer on WNYC on Thursday that the power retained by GOP lawmakers in the Senate — who have a numerical minority in the chamber — prevented the passage of an ethics measure following a spate of corruption arrests.
“They have this power sharing agreement that disallows what the other doesn’t want in getting to the floor,” Stewart-Cousins said. “Despite that the fact the majority of people wanted to see things happen, because of this relationship we couldn’t see something like ethics reform. I mean, everyone had an ethics package. You would think certainly obviously New Yorkers are looking to see some accountability and responsiveness from the New York state Legislature.”
Still, as Gannett recently pointed out, there isn’t uniform support in the mainstream Senate Democratic conference for public financing (the proposal is on the IDC platform, the Democratic conference’s platform and in the Assembly Democrats’ ethics package).
At the same time, not all members — specifically Sen. Ruben Diaz — in the Senate Democratic conference were on board with the plank in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s women’s agenda that would codify Roe v. Wade in state law. IDC Leader Jeff Klein attempted to attach the measure to a health-related bill in June, but the amendment failed.
Still, Stewart-Cousins also raised concerns about last year’s minimum wage agreement, which took effect on Wednesday, edging the state’s minimum wage to $8, up from $7.25. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver signaled this week he would push for changes to the minimum wage increase that would speed up the phased-in hikes.
“We won’t get to $9 until 2016 so the compromise that happened — when you talk about this bipartisan cooperation — the compromise that happened has put New York’s hard working low wage workers frankly at a lower wage than what has happened in New Jersey, what’s happening in California, what’s happening all around us,” she said.
All of this, of course, is in the context of Klein’s vocal support for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to increase taxes on those making $500,000 and more in order to fund a universal pre-Kindergarten program.
Senate Republicans have not been supportive of the measure and Cuomo — who will be pushing for a tax cut in the new year — has not indicated what he’ll do about the proposal, which needs approval from Albany.
As for whether Democrats would launch a primary against members of the IDC — and rumors have swirled that various challenges may come to Klein or fellow IDCer Sen. Diane Savino — Stewart-Cousins demurred.
“I’m not focused on re-election right now,” she said. “I’m really focused on trying to get this work done.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on January 2, 2014 at 12:38 pm, and is filed under State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|