Caucus To Cuomo: Include Stewart-Cousins In Budget Talks
From the Morning Memo:
The Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus today will call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to include Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in the closed-door budget talks with the other legislative leaders.
In a statement due to be released later today and first obtained by Capital Tonight, the caucus of Assembly and Senate lawmakers it’s an “injustice” that Stewart-Cousins, the first black woman to lead a legislative conference in Albany, to not be included in the talks.
“For too long the voices of certain groups have been absent from discussions on important state policies. This very fact spurred the creation of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus and has guided our mission ever since,” the caucus said in a statement. “With the apparent changes in requirements on who is able to attend the three/four men in a room negotiations, we would hope that all Conference Leaders of both houses are included.”
The statement comes after the elevation of Carl Heastie to the speaker’s post, who is the first black lawmaker to hold the position following former Speaker Sheldon Silver’s arrest on corruption charges. The caucus also makes note that Stewart-Cousins is the “first and only female leader” who is being left out of the negotiations.
“In 2015, it’s simply unacceptable that a leader who better represents our state’s diversity, and is the first and only female leader in our state’s history, is being excluded from the current budget negotiations,” the caucus said. “There is still time to correct this injustice and invite all Conference Leaders, including Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, to all policy discussions regarding the direction of New York State. It is clear that the more diversity and light we can shine on Albany, the better it is for all New Yorkers.”
The statement is part of a broader push to have Stewart-Cousins included in the budget meetings. Democrats, along with Republican Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, were emboldened to push for great inclusion in the negotiations after Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein was added to the negotiations this year.
Klein continues to hold an alliance with Senate Republicans in the chamber, but after the GOP gained a full majority last year, is no longer co-president and does not have the power of determining which bills come to the floor for a vote.
Heastie, in a news conference this week, said it was up to Cuomo as to who is included in the budget meetings.
“You have to ask that question to the governor,” Heastie said, adding, “If the governor wants to invite the members of the minority, I have no problem with that.”
Meanwhile, women’s advocacy organizations on Thursday tweeted their support for including Stewart-Cousins in the negotiations.
“Let’s stop marginalizing elected reps,” the Westchester Women’s Agenda posted on Twitter. “#MakeRoomNYS for all conference leaders in the budget process.”
Democratic Sen. James Sanders also made a reference to including Stewart-Cousins in the meeting as Cuomo’s lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, presided over her first Senate session on Wednesday.
“I’m hoping this democracy spreads and we all see the beauty of having women in places of leadership,” Sanders said.
In an interview on The Capitol Pressroom on Thursday, Stewart-Cousins said she has not broached the topic with Cuomo, but did discuss it with Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
“He would be more than happy to have me in the room,” Stewart-Cousins said.
As for the governor, Stewart-Cousins said the matter of including her was up to him.
“It’s his room,” she said.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on March 12, 2015 at 8:04 am, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo, Democrats, State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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