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ALBANY — Democrats in the state Senate’s minority focused some of their budget debate Thursday on what wasn’t in the diverse package: ethics legislation.
“We have taken this Watergate moment and turned it into a Waterloo moment . . . because we did nothing,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) in a tense floor debate.
He referred to the corruption convictions four months ago of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre).
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s ethics proposals in his executive budget were dropped from the 2016-17 state budget by the Senate’s Republican majority and the Assembly’s Democratic majority.
“In a year when Albany should be taking every possible opportunity to regain the trust of New Yorkers, the Senate Republican majority is giving $154 billion more reasons for distrust,” said Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Manhattan).
Several Democratic senators made similar floor speeches.
Senate Republicans instead focused this budget session on delivering a $1 billion tax cut for families earning up to $300,000 a year, business tax cuts, stopping an expected increase in tuition for the State University of New York and spreading out implementation of a $15-an-hour minimum wage on Long Island and reducing it upstate to $12.50.
In January, Cuomo had proposed to end the so-called LLC loophole that allows corporations to exceed limits in contributing to candidates, to limit the outside income of lawmakers who receive a base pay of $79,500 for the part-time jobs, and to allow forfeiture of pensions for officials convicted of corruption.
In the Assembly, Republican leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) focused on what he called the dysfunction and secrecy of the budget negotiations by Cuomo and the leaders of the Senate and Assembly majorities.
“At a time when Albany should be truly committed to transparency and effecting change, the Assembly majority continues to rely on a business-as-usual approach that is leading New York in the wrong direction,” Minority Leader Kolb said.
The Assembly’s Democratic majority led the fight for a $15 minimum wage, paid family leave and the blocking of a $250 million Medicaid cost shift on to New York City.