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Hot issues for Republicans in State Senate

How four hot-button issues may fare under Republican control of the State Senate:

MTA payroll tax: After campaigning on rescinding the unpopular tax on Downstate businesses, Republicans have little choice but to seek its repeal. But removing it will require the cooperation of New York City-centric Assembly Democrats and Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, who have not indicated it is a priority.

"It's such an infamous, self-explanatory tax that is has to be addressed," said Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City). "Will they go along with it? I'm not sure they know what they'll go along with."

Gay marriage: Democrats could muster only 24 of their 32 members to vote for a 2009 gay marriage bill that drew zero GOP support. But Cuomo signaled strong support for the issue on the campaign trail. Ross Levi, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, said his group will remind senators of their colleagues Frank Padavan (R-Jamaica Estates) and William Stachowski (D-Buffalo), who each voted against gay marriage and lost re-election bids last month.

"Elected officials have to be thinking, 'Do I want that target turning on me,'" Levi said.

School aid: When the Democratic legislature increased school funding to Gov. David Paterson's 2009-10 budget, Nassau and Suffolk got 6 percent of the new money. And when they cut school aid in the 2010-11 budget, Long Island took 16 percent of the reduction. With a block of GOP senators in the majority, the region can expect to return to its traditional 13 percent of all state school aid.

Redistricting: Had Democrats retained control of the Senate along with the Assembly and Executive Mansion, they could have redrawn district lines with the decennial U.S. Census figures to reduce the number of seats Republicans could win. Cuomo has called for an independent commission to handle redistricting.

Republicans, said Susan Lerner of Common Cause New York, "have been spending two years trumpeting their commitment to reform. It is now incumbent on them and on us and on the press to remind them on what they said in the past and hold them to that."


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