Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Skelos: ‘Our agenda is not changing’

Newly re-elected Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos said that many of the details guiding the Majority Coalition were still being worked out, and repeated several times that all agenda items were up for discussion between Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference. Whether those future discussions would lead to a bill making its way onto the Senate floor, however, was a different matter

“We haven’t made any decision or agreement as to what what will come to the floor,” Skelos told reporters outside of the Majority Conference chambers. “The only agreement that we have is that we will discuss all of the issues that are important to (the IDC); they will discuss issues that are important to us. … Our agenda is not changing.”

Asked about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “litmus test,” Skelos said, “I noticed that a few of the items he had there we had already passed”: the tax cap, the expansion of the DNA database, the establishment of a Tier VI pension package.

On campaign finance reform, Skelos said he thought a compromise could be reached to boost “transparency,” but noted that current proposals for public financing of elections would cost an estimated $200 million. “But we’ll discuss everything,” he said.

He was similarly cagey on a minimum wage increase.

Skelos laughingly said that he wasn’t sure who would be the first Temporary President of 2013; he and Klein are supposed to swap that position every two weeks.

Asked if Republicans would hold onto their committee chairmanships despite the rise of the IDC (and its apparent intention to find posts for at least a few mainline Democrats).

“I think there will basically be very disruption within the Senate with the new chairmanships and staffing, that sort of thing,” Skelos said.

Updated: Here’s a response to the Q&A from Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy:

“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.” POST

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