Senate Passes Cuts, 51-6

Bill Perkins

August 21, 2008

The Senate returned briefly to the Capitol today to pass the spending cuts agreed on yesterday by the governor and legislative leaders and approved by the Assembly in the wee hours of the morning.

Six Democrats voted "no." They were: Shirely Huntley, Efrain Gonzalez Jr., Marty Connor, Kevin Parker, Bill Perkins, and Ruben Diaz Sr.

Two lawmakers were excused: John Flanagan and Eric Schneiderman. One was absent: Carl Kruger. he has until 5 p.m. to weigh in with his vote, according to the majority press office.

Of the Democrats who rejected the deal, three - Connor, Parker and Gonzalez - have high-profile primaries within a matter of weeks.

Parker, who also broke with his fellow Democrats and Gov. David Paterson on the property tax cap, insisted his three-way primary, in which he is facing Councilmen Simcha Felder and Kendall Stewart - had nothing to do with his decision.

"At the end of the day, we have to protect people," Parker said, adding that he would have preferred to see revenue-generating measures like a millionaire's tax to cuts to health care and CUNY.

That sentiment was echoed by Perkins, who called the bill "rife with contradictions."

"Cutting funds to lead paint programs and keeping empty prisons open is not sharing the pain," the Harlem Democrat said. "Cutting CUNY while holding the rich sacred, I don't call that sharing the pain."

With the cuts safely behind them - at least until after the elections - the Senate Democrats and their staff have officially moved into campaign mode.

They have all decamped to the Washington Avenue Armory for a working lunch at which the topic will be the upcoming elections and their effort to oust the Republicans from the majority.