December 10, 2012Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he does not have a preference of who holds the position of the Senate Majority Leader, as long as the state's upper chamber remains effective and makes progress on his priority issues.
He said he does not want to see the Senate revert back to a dysfunctional and corrupt body as it has in the past.
"As governor, I have specific programs and progressive initiatives that I believe must be continued or enacted, and I will give or withhold my support based on an individual legislator's support of those issues," wrote Cuomo in an op-ed published in the Times Union last week. "In general, I believe the state needs to continue the progress of the past two years to maintain the fiscal integrity we've established and further the social progress we've achieved."
He includes ten policy issues in which he would like to see the Senate continue to support or enact in the upcoming legislative session. These include maintaining the current property tax cap, reforming campaign finance, increasing the minimum wage, changing New York City's "stop and frisk" policy, addressing climate change, keeping the current education and Medicaid budget rate formulas, continuing tax rates that favor the middle class, continuing education reforms, protecting a woman's right to choose, and allowing more casinos as a way to increase revenue.
M. Tracey Brooks, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York, said she, along with the health care providers and consumers they represent, applaud Cuomo for prioritizing a woman's right to choose and said passing the Reproductive Health Act will show the nation that women's health care access should progress.
"Family Planning Advocates of New York State and the health care providers and consumers we represent commend Gov. Cuomo for including women's health care in his top 10 policy issues for the coming year," said Brooks in a statement. "We are looking forward to the governor's commitment to prioritizing women's health care policy being reflected in his legislative agenda as part of his intention to continue New York state's legacy as a leader in women's health care policy."
Rob Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York said he thinks including the Independent Democratic Conference in the state Senate would not make matters worse because in previous years, the Senate has not been a good leader for environmental issues.
In his statement, he said he wants to see the Senate Majority Coalition face environmental challenges such as "rising sea levels, increased flooding in coastal areas and along the state's rivers, and decreasing our contribution to global warming."
"If they are serious, the new Senate Majority will find eager partners in the state's environmental community, the state Assembly, and the governor," said Moore. "Let's hope their actions are the equal of their rhetoric."
The governor's closing remarks in his op-ed reminds the public that time is needed to develop an efficient Senate and he will be announcing a new legislative agenda in his State of the State address in early January.
"The state has more matters of more weight pending at this time than any other point in modern political history − we cannot afford to go back to a period of dysfunction," wrote Cuomo.