Tax cap and ethics reform are what New Yorkers feel lawmakers at the state Capitol should focus on at the end of legislative session. This is according to a new poll by the Siena College Research Institute.
More than 50 percent of those polled put tax cap and ethics reform among their top priorities before the session ends on June 20th.
The poll also shows who voters will likely blame if either issue fails to pass.
Siena pollster Steve Greenberg said, “On the issue of the property tax cap and ethics, Democrats are going to blame the Republican Senate. Republicans are going to blame the Democratic Assembly. So we take a look at Independent voters. On the property tax cap they are evenly divided. They are going to split their blame between the Senate and the Assembly, but on the issues of ethics reform, more Independent voters are going to blame Senate Republicans than Assembly Democrats.”
Only 29 percent included Governor Andrew Cuomo’s third priority, which is the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York State.
The ethics reform package, known as the Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011, passed the state Legislature overwhelmingly today.
The vote was unanimous in the Senate, but Assemblyman Joel Miller, R-Poughkeepsie, voted against it, saying the package is weak.
“Where people are willing to point out where the bill is significantly flawed, they will vote for it because everyone is afraid of the consequences. Well in my district, I am known for speaking exactly what the truth is. And if lied, I’d create a problem at the polls,” Miller said on the Assembly floor.
“But by telling the truth, at least I can continue a pattern and people should know that this bill is far from perfect. And so I will be voting in the negative, even though I don’t see a plethora of other red lights there” also voting no.
Aside from Miller, the bill was praised by lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo—who introduced the legislation.
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to lock in state workers to a six-year contract with almost no raises, and higher co-pays for their health insurance.
That’s according to the Public Employees Federation, the second-largest union of state workers. PEF, headquartered in Latham, released details of the contract it says Cuomo’s administration offered, along with its counter-proposal.
Cuomo’s office would not confirm PEF’s account of the negotiations.
PEF represents white-collar state workers, including close to 20,000 who live in the Capital Region. Many business lobbies have pushed for at least a one-year pay freeze for union workers to help keep the state’s budget balanced.
Members of PEF and the larger Civil Service Employees Association have been working without contracts since the April 1 start of the state’s current fiscal year. State law kept in place scheduled raises for thousands of workers as their leaders bargained new deals.
The state budget, at Cuomo’s urging, counts on $450 million of unspecified “work force savings” expected to come through contract talks. If not, Cuomo said the state will need to lay off up to 9,800 workers sometime this summer to meet that budget item.
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A local state senator is one of a handful singled out in Monday’s New York Post.
Columnist Fred Dicker reports that Jim Alesi is a likely Yes on marriage rights if the bill comes up for a vote in the state Senate.
Alesi, a Republican from Perinton, agonized over his vote two years ago, then voted No, explaining later he was concerned about putting other lawmakers at risk of losing support or finances for re-election if they followed his lead.
The Post article names Alesi and seven other Republicans as possible Yes votes. The Post article names Alesi and seven other Republicans as possible Yes votes.
The Post article surmises that four Republicans would have to vote Yes for same-sex marriage to pass the Senate. Alesi is the first Republican to vote in the Senate.
In an article in the New York Times on Monday, Alesi admitted “a lot of people think I’m gay.” Alesi is 63, unmarried, and says he is not gay.
A marriage-rights bill could come up in the final days of the current session.