Regular Session - January 06, 2016

Download PDF

 1               NEW YORK STATE SENATE








 9                  ALBANY, NEW YORK

10                  January 6, 2016

11                     12:26 p.m.



14                  REGULAR SESSION





19  FRANCIS W. PATIENCE, Secretary








 1               P R O C E E D I N G S

 2                THE PRESIDENT:   The Senate will 

 3   come to order.  

 4                I ask everyone to once again please 

 5   rise and repeat with me the Pledge of 

 6   Allegiance.

 7                (Whereupon, the assemblage recited 

 8   the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.)

 9                THE PRESIDENT:   Today we are 

10   joined by His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, 

11   archbishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of 

12   New York.  He will give our invocation.

13                CARDINAL DOLAN:   You'll understand 

14   my dependence for prayer at this historic 

15   moment, and my dependence upon God's own 

16   inspired word in the Bible, the Jewish author of 

17   the Book of Wisdom, Chapter 9.  Let us pray.  

18                God of our ancestors, Lord of 

19   mercy, You who have made all things by Your word 

20   and in Your wisdom have established us to rule 

21   and to serve the creatures produced by You, to 

22   govern the world in holiness and justice, and to 

23   render judgment with integrity of heart.  Give 

24   us wisdom, wisdom, the attendant at Your throne, 

25   and reject us not from among Your people, for we 


 1   are but Your servants, weak and short-lived, 

 2   lacking in comprehension and judgment.  Indeed, 

 3   though one be perfect among people, if wisdom, 

 4   who comes from You, be not with him, he shall be 

 5   held in no esteem.

 6                With You is wisdom, who knows Your 

 7   works and was present when You made the world, 

 8   who understands what is pleasing in Your eyes 

 9   and what is conformable with Your commandments.  

10   Send her forth from Your holy heaven and from 

11   Your glorious throne dispatch her, that she may 

12   be with us and work with us, that we may know 

13   what is Your will.  For she knows and 

14   understands all things, and will guide us 

15   discreetly in our affairs and safeguard us by 

16   her glory.

17                Let us pray.  You heard us, dear 

18   Lord.  We need wisdom as we open this 

19   legislative session.  Wisdom to know right from 

20   wrong, to serve You and our people with 

21   integrity and honor.  Wisdom to work hard for 

22   the sake of others, to keep our word and 

23   vindicate the trust of our people.  Wisdom to 

24   listen attentively and speak civilly and 

25   purposefully to pursue justice, with special 


 1   attention to babies and children, the poor, the 

 2   sick, our elders.  Wisdom to pray often and ask 

 3   the forgiveness of You and people we might harm.  

 4                To admit we need Your help and 

 5   inspiration is the beginning of wisdom itself, 

 6   dear God, and that we do this historic afternoon 

 7   as we reverently open this legislative year.  

 8                You who live and reign forever and 

 9   ever, amen.  

10                Happy New Year.

11                (Applause.)

12                THE PRESIDENT:   The Secretary will 

13   call the roll to ascertain a quorum.

14                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Addabbo.

15                SENATOR ADDABBO:   Here.

16                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Akshar.

17                SENATOR AKSHAR:   Here.

18                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Amedore.

19                SENATOR AMEDORE:   Here.

20                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Avella.

21                SENATOR AVELLA:   Here.

22                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Bonacic.

23                SENATOR BONACIC:   Here.

24                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Boyle.

25                SENATOR BOYLE:   Here.


 1                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Breslin.

 2                SENATOR BRESLIN:   Here.

 3                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Carlucci.

 4                SENATOR CARLUCCI:   Here.

 5                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Comrie.

 6                SENATOR COMRIE:   Present.

 7                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Croci.

 8                SENATOR CROCI:   Here.

 9                THE SECRETARY:   Senator 

10   DeFrancisco.

11                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Here.

12                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Díaz.

13                SENATOR DIAZ:   Present.

14                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Dilan.

15                SENATOR DILAN:   Here.

16                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Espaillat.

17                (No response.)

18                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Farley.

19                SENATOR FARLEY:   Here.  

20                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Felder.

21                SENATOR FELDER:   Here.

22                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Flanagan.

23                SENATOR FLANAGAN:   Here.

24                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Funke.

25                SENATOR FUNKE:   Here.


 1                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Gallivan.

 2                SENATOR GALLIVAN:   Here.

 3                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Gianaris.

 4                SENATOR GIANARIS:   Here.

 5                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Golden.

 6                SENATOR GOLDEN:   Here.

 7                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Griffo.

 8                SENATOR GRIFFO:   Here.

 9                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Hamilton.

10                SENATOR HAMILTON:   Here.

11                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Hannon.

12                SENATOR HANNON:   Here.

13                THE SECRETARY:   Senator 

14   Hassell-Thompson.

15                SENATOR HASSELL-THOMPSON:   Here.

16                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Hoylman.

17                (No response.)

18                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Kennedy.

19                SENATOR KENNEDY:   Here.

20                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Klein.

21                SENATOR KLEIN:   Here.

22                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Krueger.

23                SENATOR KRUEGER:   Here.

24                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Lanza.

25                SENATOR LANZA:   Here.


 1                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Larkin.

 2                SENATOR LARKIN:   Present.

 3                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Latimer.

 4                SENATOR LATIMER:   Here.

 5                THE SECRETARY:   Senator LaValle.

 6                SENATOR LaVALLE:   Here.

 7                THE SECRETARY:   Senator Little.

 8                SENATOR LITTLE:   Here.

 9                THE PRESIDENT:   Senator 

10   DeFrancisco, a quorum is present.

11                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Thank you, 

12   Madam President.

13                Could you please recognize 

14   Senator Flanagan for a moment.

15                THE PRESIDENT:   Senator Flanagan.

16                SENATOR FLANAGAN:   Thank you, 

17   Senator DeFrancisco.  Thank you, Madam President.  

18   And welcome back, everybody.  

19                But, Cardinal, I'm going to 

20   interrupt you for a moment.  If you wouldn't mind 

21   just coming into the middle of the chamber for a 

22   moment, please.  

23                Senator Akshar.  

24                I understand that you have a 

25   penchant for good food, and this is a --


 1                CARDINAL DOLAN:   (Inaudible.)

 2                (Laughter.)

 3                SENATOR FLANAGAN:   I took a wild 

 4   guess.  

 5                Senator Akshar, who's our newest 

 6   member, just we want to, on behalf of the State 

 7   Senate, present you with a token of our 

 8   appreciation for your being with us today.  

 9                And just so everyone knows, these 

10   are personalized M&Ms -- 

11                (Laughter.)

12                SENATOR FLANAGAN:   -- that not only 

13   say "Thank You," they say "Cardinal Dolan," 

14   there's a cross on a number of them.  And most 

15   importantly, there's a lot of cardinal-red M&Ms 

16   in that bag.

17                CARDINAL DOLAN:   Well, I'm still 

18   going to eat them.

19                (Laughter; applause.)

20                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Madam 

21   President, at this time would you please call on 

22   Senator Stewart-Cousins to introduce a new member 

23   of the Senate.

24                THE PRESIDENT:   Senator 

25   Stewart-Cousins.


 1                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Thank 

 2   you, Madam President.  

 3                It's my honor to introduce our 

 4   newest Senate Democratic Conference member, 

 5   Roxanne Persaud, 19th District in Brooklyn.  

 6                Senator Persaud.

 7                (Applause.)

 8                THE PRESIDENT:   Floor Leader.

 9                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Madam 

10   President, would you now again recognize 

11   Senator Flanagan for an introduction of a new 

12   member on this side of the aisle.

13                THE PRESIDENT:   Senator Flanagan.

14                SENATOR FLANAGAN:   Thank you, Madam 

15   President.  

16                It is my privilege and honor and 

17   great joy to welcome our newest colleague to our 

18   conference, a gentleman who hails from the 

19   Southern Tier, has distinguished himself already 

20   as a great member of our conference.  His name is 

21   Fred Akshar, and he comes with a terrific 

22   background, very diverse experience, terrific 

23   family, steeped in law enforcement.  

24                And the first time I met with Fred, 

25   I'm just going to say this, I asked him what his 


 1   top priorities were.  And the first thing he said 

 2   to me was heroin and opioid addiction.  And I 

 3   thought that was very telling and compelling that 

 4   that would be what he would talk about, because 

 5   that is in some sense unconventional.  That just 

 6   happened to be a private meeting.  

 7                He spent 15 years as a deputy 

 8   sheriff, has distinguished himself in the public 

 9   sector long before he joined the Senate.  

10                So, Senator Akshar, welcome and 

11   thank you for being part of our conference.

12                (Applause.)

13                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Madam 

14   President, would you now proceed to the regular 

15   order of business.

16                THE PRESIDENT:   Thank you, 

17   Mr. Floor Leader.  

18                As is custom, I am honored as 

19   Lieutenant Governor to have the courtesy extended 

20   to me to deliver brief welcoming remarks to this 

21   body.  So I'm delighted to welcome all of you to 

22   the 239th session of the Senate.  And I also want 

23   to tell you what a privilege it has been to work 

24   with each of you and our Governor, Andrew Cuomo.  

25                And I hope that as you walk into 


 1   this magnificent room that you never lose the 

 2   sense of awe that you must have felt your first 

 3   time coming here to represent the people of your 

 4   district.  And whether you've been here 39 or so 

 5   years, like Senator Farley or Senator LaValle, or 

 6   just a matter of hours, like our newest members, 

 7   Senators Akshar and Persaud, I want to make sure 

 8   that you never lose that sense of honor and awe 

 9   that you have in this room.  

10                And also never forget what first 

11   drew you to public service, whether it was some 

12   injustice in your district that you wanted to 

13   right, whether it was some challenge your 

14   community faced that you felt you needed to fight 

15   for, or perhaps you simply had a desire to leave 

16   the world a better place.  

17                And I, for one, drew my inspiration 

18   from my parents, who started life in a trailer 

19   outside Buffalo, New York, near the Bethlehem 

20   Steel plant.  And on my refrigerator I'll never 

21   forget there was a little sign that said "Go into 

22   the world and do well.  But more importantly, go 

23   into the world and do good."

24                So perhaps we can all unite behind 

25   the maxim of doing good for the world and doing 


 1   good for the people of this state, so we know 

 2   when we enter these halls we can remain true to 

 3   our values and to our constituents and to our 

 4   geographic boundaries.  

 5                But ultimately we do share a common 

 6   bond.  And as the Governor frequently reminds us, 

 7   we share a name, and that is New Yorkers.  And 

 8   through our willingness to set aside our 

 9   differences, roll up our sleeves and work 

10   together, we will once again earn and deserve the 

11   respect of the people who sent us to this body, 

12   who put their faith in each of us.  

13                As I traveled the 62 counties this 

14   past year, I can't forget the people whose faces 

15   I saw who touched my life profoundly, giving me a 

16   glimpse into their worlds.  Sharing tears with 

17   the wife and children of someone being deployed 

18   from Fort Drum.  Reading to a toddler in a 

19   homeless shelter in Buffalo.  Talking to 

20   concerned business owners along Main Streets in 

21   Long Island.  And watching in awe of a 30-year 

22   schoolteacher veteran as she embraced pre-K 

23   students in Plattsburgh to give them a new 

24   chance.  

25                Those are the 19 million people that 


 1   we represent here today, not ourselves.  They are 

 2   the reason we are here.  

 3                And I will close by saying last week 

 4   I watched as Cardinal Dolan welcomed all of us to 

 5   St. Patrick's Cathedral for a very sad occasion.  

 6   It was the mourners of Detective Joseph Lemm, who 

 7   we lost in conflict in Afghanistan.  But 

 8   afterward I noticed that the Cardinal wrote a 

 9   column, and he called it "A year of trials gone 

10   by, a year of hope ahead."  Interesting title.  

11                But His Eminence said:  "We have a 

12   God of second chances, a Lord who never tires of 

13   giving us a fresh start."  Well, that is why we 

14   stand here today.  We're closing the door on 

15   2015, optimistic about the promise of this new 

16   year, our fresh start.  

17                And while it may seem an eternity 

18   away on this cold day, let's look with 

19   anticipation to that day six months from now when 

20   we close this chapter and we ask ourselves, did 

21   we make a positive difference in the lives of 

22   New Yorkers while we sat in this room?  And I say 

23   let the answer be a resounding yes, we did.

24                Thank you for the privilege of 

25   addressing you today.  


 1                Senator DeFrancisco.

 2                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Yes, can we 

 3   now proceed to the regular order of business.

 4                THE PRESIDENT:   Presentation of 

 5   petitions.

 6                Messages from the Assembly.

 7                Messages from the Governor.

 8                Reports of standing committees.

 9                Reports of select committees.

10                Communications and reports from 

11   state officers.

12                Motions and resolutions.

13                Floor Leader.

14                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Madam 

15   President, there's a resolution at the desk.  And 

16   I'd ask that it be read in its entirety and move 

17   for its immediate adoption.

18                THE PRESIDENT:   The Secretary will 

19   read.

20                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 

21   by Senators Flanagan and Klein, directing the 

22   Temporary President to appoint a committee of 

23   three to inform the Governor that the Senate is 

24   organized and ready to proceed with business.

25                "RESOLVED, Directing the Temporary 


 1   President to appoint a committee of three 

 2   compromised of Senator Akshar, Senator Savino, 

 3   and Senator Comrie, for the purpose of informing 

 4   the Governor that the Senate is organized and 

 5   ready to proceed with business."

 6                THE PRESIDENT:   The question is on 

 7   the resolution.  All those in favor signify by 

 8   saying aye.

 9                (Response of "Aye.")

10                THE PRESIDENT:   Opposed, nay.

11                (No response.)

12                THE PRESIDENT:   The ayes have it.  

13   The resolution is adopted.

14                Senators Akshar, Savino and Comrie 

15   are appointed to inform the Governor that the 

16   Senate is assembled and ready to proceed with 

17   business.

18                Mr. Floor Leader.

19                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Madam 

20   President, I believe there's another resolution 

21   at the desk.  I request that it be read in its 

22   entirety and moved.

23                THE PRESIDENT:   The Secretary will 

24   read.

25                THE SECRETARY:   Senate Resolution 


 1   by Senators Flanagan and Klein, directing the 

 2   Temporary President to appoint a committee of 

 3   three to wait upon the Assembly and inform that 

 4   body that the Senate is assembled and ready to 

 5   proceed with business.  

 6                "RESOLVED, Directing the Temporary 

 7   President to appoint a committee of three 

 8   comprised of Senator Croci, Senator Carlucci, and 

 9   Senator Persaud, for the purpose of waiting upon 

10   the Assembly and informing that body that the 

11   Senate is assembled and ready to proceed with 

12   business."

13                THE PRESIDENT:   The question is on 

14   the resolution.  All those in favor signify by 

15   saying aye.

16                (Response of "Aye.")

17                THE PRESIDENT:   Opposed, nay.

18                (No response.)

19                THE PRESIDENT:   The ayes have it.  

20   The resolution is adopted.

21                Senators Croci, Carlucci and Persaud 

22   are appointed to wait upon the Assembly to inform 

23   them that the Senate is assembled and ready to 

24   proceed with business.

25                Mr. Floor Leader.


 1                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Madam 

 2   President, would you now recognize Senator 

 3   Stewart-Cousins for opening remarks.

 4                THE PRESIDENT:   Senator 

 5   Stewart-Cousins.

 6                SENATOR STEWART-COUSINS:   Thank 

 7   you, Madam President.  

 8                And again, it's wonderful to be 

 9   back.  And Happy New Year to all.  It's certainly 

10   an honor to welcome you, Senator Akshar, and to 

11   once again welcome Senator Roxanne Persaud.  

12                When we began the introduction, I 

13   didn't tell you that she came to us by way of the 

14   Assembly and by way, before that, of tremendous 

15   community service.  She has been a committed 

16   advocate, and I think we might have even had an 

17   opportunity to see how she conducts herself.  

18   Because there's been a difficult time, and she's 

19   been the topic of many conversations, and the 

20   professionalism, the courage that she shows I 

21   think is incredible.

22                So again, welcome her.  Her family 

23   is here.  And we expect great things from you and 

24   certainly from all of us here today.

25                Senator DeFrancisco, good to see you 


 1   in your new role.  Congratulations.  And look 

 2   forward to working with you as deputy leader 

 3   with, of course, my deputy.

 4                And it's wonderful again to be back, 

 5   Senator Flanagan and Senator Klein.  I'm looking 

 6   forward to a very, very good year.  It's clearly 

 7   the time that we have to come together.  It's a 

 8   new year, it's a new session.  And as always, it 

 9   serves as a restart button.  It's a time to 

10   refresh our commitment to this great state 

11   and to the people we serve.

12                And we are pressing a restart from a 

13   year that -- last year was extremely interesting.  

14   And I don't have to tell you it was a year that 

15   was filled with scandal.  And I believe it was a 

16   year that would make all of us, as elected 

17   officials, angry.  

18                The people of this State of New York 

19   are looking at us to take concrete action.  So we 

20   have a responsibility and an opportunity, once 

21   again, not to bury our heads in the sand and act 

22   like nothing is wrong.  This is the time to get 

23   serious.  This is the time to express our anger 

24   and to turn that anger into legislative action.  

25   It's time for us to have a major rehaul of our 


 1   Ethics Law and finally -- finally -- let Albany 

 2   be an example of good government.  

 3                We have to restrict, limit outside 

 4   income, because we're here to serve the public.  

 5   We need to do that.  We have to stop using our 

 6   campaign funds as ATM machines, those of us who 

 7   do.  Again, the majority of us are here doing 

 8   what we have to do for the public.  But the 

 9   public needs to know that we hear what they're 

10   saying and that we reflect what they're thinking.  

11                We have to close the outrageous LLC 

12   loopholes, and we have to change our campaign 

13   finance system.  We can move on ethics right 

14   away.  We can show the people of New York we're 

15   about doing their business and deserving of their 

16   trust.  You know, year after year our conference 

17   presents new ethics -- we have so many different 

18   things we could do.  We've just got to come 

19   together and start doing something.  This is the 

20   time.  

21                And when we do that and when we 

22   prove that we can come together because we 

23   recognize what people care about, we can also, 

24   also do the other things people care about.  We 

25   know what we're dealing with in terms of raising 


 1   the minimum wage yet again, because we are still 

 2   talking about millions of New Yorkers in 

 3   bone-crushing poverty.  And we have to lift 

 4   people up.  

 5                And I'm happy that the Governor has 

 6   joined this fight and is leading it.  I hope that 

 7   we will not disappoint impoverished working 

 8   New Yorkers once again.  Let's raise the minimum 

 9   wage, let's index it, let's make work dignified.  

10                We also have to go back, dare I say, 

11   to health and equality of women in New York.  I'd 

12   like to pass a real -- not watered-down -- entire 

13   Women's Equality Act.  

14                We need to -- and I know, Senator 

15   Akshar, you care about addiction.  And so we have 

16   to help those struggling with addiction, 

17   including the horrible heroin scourge that's 

18   devastating our communities across the state.  I 

19   hope we can get together and do those things.  

20                And then we have our children.  We 

21   have to make sure that all New York children have 

22   access to quality education.  They deserve 

23   everything we can do to help them build a 

24   foundation in this global economy.  And we have 

25   to make sure that higher education is accessible 


 1   and affordable to all of our kids.

 2                We have to make sure that everyone 

 3   has an affordable roof over their heads that they 

 4   can call home.  And when we invest in crumbling 

 5   infrastructure, let's not forget to rebuild not 

 6   only our roads and bridges but our schools across 

 7   New York State, and truly make New York the 

 8   Empire State.

 9                Senator Flanagan, the Democratic 

10   Conference stands ready to work with you on these 

11   and all of the issues.  Together we will give all 

12   New Yorkers the responsible and productive 

13   government they deserve.  The Democratic 

14   Conference stands ready to work with all of our 

15   Senators regardless of party affiliation.  

16                So that being said, let's get to 

17   work.  Happy New Year.  Thank you.

18                (Standing ovation.)

19                THE PRESIDENT:   Thank you, Senator 

20   Stewart-Cousins.

21                Senator DeFrancisco.

22                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Madam 

23   President, would you please recognize Senator 

24   Klein for a brief -- I don't know if they're 

25   brief or not, but for opening remarks.  Thank 


 1   you.

 2                (Laughter.)

 3                THE PRESIDENT:   Yes.  Senator 

 4   Klein.

 5                SENATOR KLEIN:   Thank you, 

 6   Madam President.  Thank you very much.  

 7                I want to say a very special thank 

 8   you to our Majority Leader, John Flanagan.  I 

 9   want to thank him most of all for his spirit of 

10   bipartisanship, and also for the new furniture.  

11                (Laughter.)

12                SENATOR KLEIN:   I also want to 

13   thank the Minority Leader of our institution, 

14   Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, for her 

15   leadership as well.  

16                And I too want to welcome the new 

17   members of the Senate.  First, Senator Roxanne 

18   Persaud, I thank you for your leadership and your 

19   courage, and I look forward to working with you 

20   on Day One on meaningful and effective gun 

21   control laws.  I thank you for that.

22                I also want to welcome Senator Fred 

23   Akshar.  Your law enforcement background I think 

24   is going to prove very, very useful in making 

25   sure New Yorkers are safer when they go to sleep 


 1   at night.  Thank you for your service.  

 2                I also want to thank our Lieutenant 

 3   Governor, Kathy Hochul, who has spent, I think 

 4   since we left here, each and every day visiting 

 5   every area of the state.  She truly is probably 

 6   one of the most hardest-working public officials 

 7   I ever met.  

 8                I also want to thank Cardinal Dolan 

 9   for addressing us today.  He's certainly an 

10   inspiration to all of us.

11                And I also want to thank the 

12   hardest-working members, I believe, of the 

13   New York State Senate, the members of the 

14   Independent Democratic Conference.  I want to 

15   thank Senators Valesky, Savino, Carlucci and 

16   Avella.  Thank you for your dedicated service.

17                I think it was said before, but I 

18   think we are really entering, I think, sort of a 

19   turning point in the State Senate.  And I think 

20   it's incumbent upon all of us to work together to 

21   sort of regain the voters' trust.  I think the 

22   way we do that is by getting to work and doing 

23   the people's business.  But I also think we need 

24   to reform this very institution, both the Senate 

25   as well as the Assembly.


 1                The Independent Democratic 

 2   Conference this summer has been working on a 

 3   whole host of different issues, but one thing I 

 4   want to single out is something I got involved 

 5   in, along with my colleague Senator Valesky, in 

 6   fighting K2, otherwise known as synthetic 

 7   marijuana.  This is something that is killing our 

 8   young people throughout our state, unfortunately 

 9   is still legal in New York.  

10                I have passed in the State Senate 

11   overwhelmingly for the past three years a way we 

12   can ban all types of synthetic drugs.  But now I 

13   think the clarion call has to go to the Assembly 

14   to finally pass this analog bill and keep our 

15   young people safe.

16                The Independent Democratic 

17   Conference also laid out this year -- and we're 

18   officially doing it tomorrow, but this is sort of 

19   a preview of a blueprint for a better New York 

20   which we're calling New York 2020.  We have 

21   Educate New York 2020, House New York 2020, 

22   Work New York 2020 and of course Live New York 

23   2020.

24                And I think one of the things that 

25   we start off with is our bold education plan.  I 


 1   think it's a way to invest in our students, a 

 2   very important way to invest in our students, 

 3   through expanding after-school opportunities.  

 4   Our program will allow 1.2 million children in 

 5   New York State to attend an after-school program 

 6   of real, meaningful activity, which they don't 

 7   have right now.  

 8                We also have to make sure that we 

 9   don't stop just with lower-level education, but 

10   with college.  I think we've been saying this 

11   time and time again, it's not only a New York 

12   problem, but probably a problem across the 

13   United States, of the high cost of college 

14   education.  We're proposing something that I 

15   think is going to finally deal with the problem.  

16                We're introducing a zero-interest 

17   loan program called the New York Achieve Loan 

18   Program, which will actually create no-interest 

19   loans for students to actually achieve the 

20   American dream of a college education.

21                We also have a House New York plan 

22   which calls for more investment in the New York 

23   City Housing Authority developments, as well as 

24   to revamp the Mitchell-Lama 2020 program, which 

25   we effectively got into the budget last year.  


 1   The best way we can actually make sure that we 

 2   have affordable housing is to reinvigorate this 

 3   very important program, which allows various 

 4   income levels, different tiers, to live under one 

 5   roof and live affordably.

 6                One of the things that I think is 

 7   extremely important, that we can no longer 

 8   ignore, is making sure we get more and more 

 9   New Yorkers back to work.  We need to do paid 

10   family leave.  It's become, I think, something 

11   that is crucial to New Yorkers.  This is a 

12   national issue.  I've been pushing it now for the 

13   past three years.  And I think what we need to do 

14   is finally get it done now.  

15                There's no way we should put 

16   New Yorkers in a position to act accordingly to 

17   what their heart tells them to do but what their 

18   pocketbook allows them to do.  They have to be 

19   able to take care of a sick loved one -- a 

20   parent, a grandparent.  They have to be able to 

21   bond with a newborn.  This is something that's 

22   crucial.  So we're calling for a 12-week paid 

23   family leave program to happen finally here in 

24   New York State.

25                Last year we were probably one of 


 1   the first that talked about the infrastructure 

 2   needs, not only in downstate but upstate and 

 3   really everywhere in between.  And I think the 

 4   way we actually finally invest in our 

 5   infrastructure across the State of New York is to 

 6   do it in a way where we create a revolving loan 

 7   fund so the money is there year after year and we 

 8   tie it to good-paying jobs.  

 9                This is the New Deal.  I know some 

10   of my Republican colleagues maybe don't like that 

11   word.  But you know something, I think now is the 

12   time to not only create or recreate the New Deal, 

13   but actually improve our infrastructure statewide 

14   and make sure we create good-paying jobs in the 

15   process.  

16                We have to do something about 

17   childcare.  Childcare is beyond the reach of most 

18   couples.  And at the same time we have to not 

19   only guarantee that childcare is affordable, we 

20   have to make sure it's safe.  That's something 

21   that the Independent Democratic Conference is 

22   pushing for as well.  

23                As I said before, I think this is 

24   the way we restore the voters' trust, by truly 

25   doing the people's business in a bipartisan way.  


 1   But at the same time we really have to 

 2   restructure our institution.  

 3                When we left here I called for a ban 

 4   on outside income.  I tried to lead by example by 

 5   divesting from my law firm which I had for 

 6   15 years.  I love practicing law, and I know many 

 7   of you love it as well.  But at the same time, I 

 8   think we've come to a time where we have to make 

 9   a choice:  Are we going to be full-time 

10   legislators and serve the people full-time, or 

11   are we going to do it part-time?  I think clearly 

12   what the voters want and what the people deserve 

13   is a full-time legislature and banning all 

14   outside income.  

15                So I think we laid out, I think, a 

16   robust agenda.  I think if any year is the year 

17   that we have to truly get to work, it's now.  

18                So again, I want to thank my 

19   colleagues on both sides of the aisle.  And I 

20   think the way we restore the voters' trust is to 

21   once again do the people's business and do it 

22   quickly.  

23                Thank you, Senator Flanagan.

24                (Standing ovation.)

25                THE PRESIDENT:   Thank you, 


 1   Senator Klein.

 2                Senator DeFrancisco.

 3                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Madam 

 4   President, would you now recognize 

 5   Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan for his 

 6   opening remarks.

 7                THE PRESIDENT:   Senator Flanagan.

 8                SENATOR FLANAGAN:   Thank you.  

 9   Thank you, Senator DeFrancisco.

10                Madam President, it's nice to see 

11   you presiding today.  I wish good things for you 

12   this year and for your colleague, commonly known 

13   as Governor Andrew Cuomo.  We have proven that we 

14   can work together, and when we do so on behalf of 

15   the people of this great state, things tend to 

16   work out much more positively.

17                I don't know if he -- I don't see 

18   him in here, but I want to speak about a couple 

19   of people first.  

20                Senator Persaud, I apologize for not 

21   properly recognizing you before.  Welcome.  I 

22   hope you have a prosperous 2016.  

23                I want to thank my colleagues 

24   Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senator Jeff 

25   Klein, the leader of the IDC, Floor Leader Mike 


 1   Gianaris for their work in the past.  And I think 

 2   there are a number of things that we need to 

 3   reflect on and keep in mind.  

 4                But before I go into that, there's a 

 5   gentleman who actually helps run this place.  

 6   He's commonly known as the Secretary of the 

 7   Senate.  Frank Patience does a great job on 

 8   behalf of all the members, and a lot of the good 

 9   things that you've seen done are with he and his 

10   crew.  So to the Secretary of the Senate, who is 

11   now coming right back into the chamber.

12                (Sustained applause.)

13                SENATOR FLANAGAN:   The Cardinal is 

14   in his office, so the Cardinal heard his name 

15   being taken out, so he made him come out here.  

16   But, Frank, thank you for all the work that you 

17   do.

18                And we have -- I'm reflecting on a 

19   number of different things.  I'm going to focus 

20   on some very positive things.  First of all, we 

21   have proven that we can work together.  Not a 

22   hundred percent, but we have proven we can work 

23   together.  And that's a good thing.  When we 

24   listen to our constituents, when we listen to the 

25   taxpayers, when we work in a collegial capacity, 


 1   good things happen for the people of the State of 

 2   New York.  

 3                And I know we can do it because 

 4   we've done it already.  We've proven that we can 

 5   have an on-time budget.  We've proven that we can 

 6   have a spending cap at the state level which is 

 7   self-imposed but not statutorily imposed.  Those 

 8   are things that we need to be focusing on.

 9                I can look back to last year, see 

10   some things that we did really well.  I believe 

11   that one of the things we need to do is take 

12   credit for the things that we actually get done.  

13   A perfect example:  We extended the property tax 

14   cap last year for another four years.  That is 

15   still wildly popular with the taxpayers.  It 

16   saves billions of dollars for New York State 

17   residents.  And that was a very good thing, and 

18   we should talk about it.  

19                We also gave a record increase in 

20   aid to education, $1.4 billion, 6 percent, the 

21   largest increase in the history of the State of 

22   New York, I believe.  We commit over $27 billion 

23   a year in aid to education, appropriately so.  

24   And we will continue to have debates on that.  So 

25   no one should apologize for that.  


 1                And by the way, we all know this.  

 2   That's where we put all our money.  That's where 

 3   the single largest increase is every year.  So we 

 4   do have accomplishments that we can and should 

 5   point to.  

 6                And in that vein, I want to talk 

 7   about public service for a moment.  I actually 

 8   believe in public service.  I come from a family 

 9   steeped in public service, and I'm very proud of 

10   it.  I'm proud to serve in the Legislature, proud 

11   to work with my colleagues even when we have our 

12   differences.  So when I look around the room, I 

13   see faces of integrity.  I see people who really 

14   care about the communities that they represent.  

15   And that includes the elected officials and the 

16   incredibly hardworking staff that happens to be 

17   with us.  

18                So we should not apologize for the 

19   good work that gets done.  We should not 

20   apologize for the fact that we've chosen a noble 

21   profession and being involved in public service.  

22   And I think we need to stand up for the 

23   traditions of the Senate in particular and speak 

24   proudly about this institution and the good 

25   things that we actually do do.  


 1                We'll take the body blows.  I get 

 2   it.  And that's going to come even when we're 

 3   doing good things.  

 4                But I'm going to talk about my 

 5   colleagues.  So I did a little homework.  You're 

 6   going to have to bear with me a second; I've got 

 7   to put the glasses on for this.  

 8                I know everyone has pride in their 

 9   districts, so I'm just going to run off -- I'm 

10   not including or excluding anybody on purpose, 

11   but I did some checking on everybody's district, 

12   notable parts of everyone's district.  

13                Senator Bonacic, Roscoe, New York, 

14   commonly known as Trout Town, USA.  It's very 

15   popular.  I know it is.  

16                Senator Espaillat, Riverside Park.  

17   I happen to know Riverside Park quite well 

18   because my daughter lives in Washington Heights.  

19                Senator Felder, Sunset Park.  

20                Senator Funke, Wegmans, Wegmans' 

21   flagship Pittsford store.  Everybody knows 

22   Wegmans.  

23                Senator Gallivan, home to one of my 

24   favorite places in the world, Letchworth State 

25   Park.  


 1                Senator Gianaris, Astoria Park.  

 2                Senator Griffo, Utica tomato pie.  

 3                Senator Hannon, Bethpage State Park.  

 4                Senator Klein, Pelham Bay Park.  

 5                We've got a heck of a lot of parks 

 6   in the State of New York.  

 7                Senator Lanza, Royal Crown Bakery.  

 8                (Laughter.)

 9                SENATOR FLANAGAN:   The fact that 

10   you live there is worthy enough.  But just 

11   picking out things in people's districts.  

12                Senator LaValle, the Hamptons.  

13                Senator Little, Lake George.  

14                Senator Marchione, Saratoga 

15   Racetrack.  

16                Senator Montgomery, Brooklyn 

17   Children's Museum.  

18                Senator Ortt, Niagara Falls State 

19   Park.  

20                Senator Parker, Prospect Park Zoo.  

21                Senator Peralta, a very proud year 

22   to be representing Citi Field.  A great year for 

23   the Mets.  So Senator Peralta.  

24                (Laughter; applause.)

25                SENATOR FLANAGAN:   Now, we had a 


 1   very interesting debate not too long ago about 

 2   yogurt.  But now I have learned that in LeRoy, 

 3   New York, which is represented by Senator 

 4   Ranzenhofer, that is where Jell-O was created, in 

 5   1897.  

 6                (Laughter.)

 7                SENATOR FLANAGAN:   I'm telling you, 

 8   I did some homework here, all right?  

 9                Senator Rivera, the Bronx Zoo.  

10                Senator Robach, Ontario Beach Park.  

11                Senator Savino, Coney Island.  

12                Senator Serino, Culinary Institute 

13   of America.  

14                Senator Serrano, Yankee Stadium.  

15                Senator Squadron, the famous Peter 

16   Luger Steak House.  

17                Senator Stewart-Cousins, the 

18   Untermyer Gardens Conservancy.  

19                Senator Valesky, Liverpool-Onondaga 

20   Lake.  

21                And last but by no means least, 

22   Senator Young, who has the hometown of Lucille 

23   Ball in her district.  

24                Fun facts about the Senate and our 

25   districts.  But my point, in fairness, is 


 1   everybody's proud of where they represent, and we 

 2   should be.  And when we fight for our districts, 

 3   that's what our calling is.  So we have a lot of 

 4   things that we should be speaking about.  

 5                So let me just touch on a couple of 

 6   priorities, if I may.  I believe that we have to 

 7   do a lot more in terms of economic development.  

 8   Our sort of one-dimensional focus, from our 

 9   Republican conference, is going to be about jobs 

10   and jobs and jobs.  We want economic opportunity 

11   for every single New Yorker.  No matter what 

12   their ethnicity, no matter what their venue, 

13   their demography, their geography, their income, 

14   we want to have everyone have equal opportunity.  

15   That's our fundamental job.  

16                Because I look at it this way.  The 

17   more jobs we create, the more we stimulate 

18   economic development, the more revenue we 

19   generate for the State of New York.  We can 

20   invest in wise and prudent programs.  And if we 

21   do it properly, we may be actually able to do 

22   things like tax cuts, real tax cuts.  I love the 

23   idea of a rebate check, but frankly I'd like to 

24   be doing tax cuts instead of giving people back 

25   their own money which they should have had in the 


 1   first place.

 2                So the priority is jobs.  That's 

 3   incredibly important.  

 4                We're also going to be talking about 

 5   the GEA.  It is very, very, very important that 

 6   we eliminate the GEA in its entirety.  That has 

 7   been a priority of this conference.  It will be 

 8   our number-one priority in terms of education.  

 9   And I have said this very clearly, we will not 

10   have a budget if the GEA is not eliminated.  It's 

11   been there way too long.

12                (Applause.)

13                SENATOR FLANAGAN:   So the GEA. 

14                Now, in terms of other stuff, I had 

15   a chance to travel a lot around this state.  And 

16   it's a big state and, by gosh, it's a beautiful 

17   state.  There are so many wonderful areas.  And I 

18   just think of all the trips that I've made going 

19   out to Buffalo, going out to Rochester.  I was up 

20   in Betty Little's district recently, visiting 

21   Bombardier and Nova Bus.  So there's a lot of 

22   good things going on in the State of New York.  

23                And I have to say, here's a perfect 

24   example.  Had no idea how much interaction we 

25   have with Quebec and Montreal.  But by going up 


 1   to Plattsburgh and hanging out with Betty Little 

 2   and listening to her local residents, learned a 

 3   lot.  You can read about it, but going and seeing 

 4   it and meeting the people makes all the 

 5   difference in the world.  

 6                So our priorities, again, are going 

 7   to be jobs, the GEA.  We believe there should be 

 8   a spending cap.  The Senate has passed a 

 9   statutory state spending cap, the Assembly has 

10   not.  With all due respect, Madam President, the 

11   Governor has not offered the state spending cap, 

12   although we have lived within an artificially 

13   imposed one.  Which is good, but it's time that 

14   we passed a state spending cap.  And we will pass 

15   that again this year in the Senate.

16                I want to just talk about one or two 

17   other things.  There was a lot discussed about 

18   ethics and budget priorities and things of that 

19   nature.  The minimum wage is a very important 

20   issue, and we should all be clear that the 

21   Senate, in a bipartisan capacity, has passed 

22   increases in the minimum wage.  Because it sounds 

23   like everybody's talking about the minimum wage 

24   as if we've done nothing.  The minimum wage has 

25   gone up 75 percent since 2004.  And that was done 


 1   working with the Governor, working with 

 2   Republicans and Democrats.  

 3                Are we going to have a healthy 

 4   discussion about this?  Of course we are.  But it 

 5   can't be done in isolation.  If we're not talking 

 6   about the regulatory environment, the economic 

 7   development environment, if we're not looking for 

 8   relief for businesses on energy taxes, 

 9   manufacturing taxes, all those kinds of things -- 

10   we have to have a complete discussion.  And I 

11   know we will.  

12                But it's very interesting because a 

13   lot of people have been opining on this subject, 

14   and I have been circumspect and judicious in 

15   large part because nobody has seen a proposal.  

16   Until we see an actual proposal and get to digest 

17   what's in there, and perhaps more importantly 

18   what is not, we have to be careful in terms of 

19   what we say.

20                We, as I said before, we want to 

21   have economic opportunity for everyone.  And in 

22   that vein, Senators Amedore and Martins have done 

23   great work on workforce development.  I was up in 

24   Rochester in Senator Robach's district.  We met 

25   with the Rochester Business Alliance.  And I 


 1   remember very clearly they talked about the fact 

 2   that they have a number of significant job 

 3   openings but they don't have the people with the 

 4   skills to fill the jobs.  So when we're talking 

 5   about minimum wage, we should be talking about 

 6   job training, retraining, workforce development.  

 7   All that has to go together.  

 8                The quality of life issues I'll 

 9   touch on very briefly, and they are all very 

10   important.  Every person in this chamber has 

11   spoken about addiction and how pervasive and 

12   terrible it is.  We need to do more.  That's one 

13   example.  

14                Second issue, Senator Serino, 

15   quality of life, she heads up a task force on 

16   Lyme disease.  That's a very significant issue.  

17   And we will do more in that area.  It is very 

18   problematic in many of our communities -- Senator 

19   LaValle's district, Senator Serino's district.  

20   She showed us a map; it's scary to see what's out 

21   there.

22                Another thing.  I'm wearing -- you 

23   guys have all heard me talk about this.  If I'm a 

24   one-note Johnny, everyone's got to get used to 

25   it.  I have my green bracelet on for organ 


 1   donation.  Senator Hannon has been a leader in 

 2   this area.  And we've done a little better, but 

 3   this is an area where we can make so much 

 4   improvement.  And this is one thing we can do 

 5   that will actually and truly save people's lives.

 6                Lastly, going back to ethics.  Let's 

 7   be clear about some of the things that we have 

 8   done.  And I am not going to apologize, I'm going 

 9   to be unabashed in suggesting that in the last 

10   seven or eight years we have made major sweeping 

11   changes in our laws in the State of New York.  

12                I believe that all the members in 

13   this body and the Assembly provide more 

14   transparency and more disclosure and more 

15   personal and more professional information than 

16   any other Legislature in the country.  We made 

17   significant changes where there was a lot more 

18   disclosure.  And that's part of what we do in 

19   terms of being here.  

20                We've also made changes in the 

21   Senate.  We made changes that are important to 

22   the running of this body.  Much to my chagrin, we 

23   have imposed term limits for legislative leaders.  

24   We have done it in our rules, and we will pass 

25   legislation to do that.  So we've already taken 


 1   positive steps.  

 2                And last year, by way of example, we 

 3   had a three-way agreement on pension forfeiture.  

 4   And by the way, we've already enacted laws to 

 5   protect in that area, and they are good, hard, 

 6   stringent laws.  But we had a three-way 

 7   agreement, and the Senate passed what was agreed 

 8   upon.  The Assembly chose not to.  They need to 

 9   do better.  Because if we're going to be talking 

10   about restoring the public trust, it's our 

11   actions that speak much louder than our words.

12                So in terms of ethics and 

13   professional responsibility, I believe a couple 

14   of things.  Number one, if we're doing our job in 

15   meeting the needs of the people of this state, 

16   that is the most important thing that we can do.  

17   Do it collegially, do it the right way, and 

18   things will generally take care of themselves.

19                We have -- we just have a lot more 

20   work that we need to do.  We will engage in 

21   whatever discussions that are necessary and have 

22   them appropriately.  I listened carefully to 

23   Senator Klein and Senator Stewart-Cousins.  

24                I'll give you a perfect example.  

25   Our conference has been philosophically and 


 1   stridently opposed to public financing of 

 2   campaigns.  We're not going to change that 

 3   position.  I'd rather spend $300 million on 

 4   education or highways, roads, bridges, the 

 5   environment, healthcare, than funding political 

 6   campaigns.  So that's -- for us, that's something 

 7   we just want to make clear that we still are 

 8   stridently opposed to.

 9                Having said that, the obligations in 

10   terms of the public's view of this institution 

11   and government generally, it's incumbent on every 

12   one of us -- Senator Stewart-Cousins, you, me, 

13   Senator Gianaris, Senator Klein, Senator Valesky, 

14   Senator Young, everyone who serves in this 

15   chamber -- we have to keep our house in good 

16   order.  And if we do so and we do it properly, 

17   the confidence that the people have in us will 

18   not only be restored, it should grow.

19                I am desperately proud to be working 

20   in the Senate.  I still feel very humbled and 

21   privileged to be able to serve as legislative 

22   leader.  I enjoy working with Senator 

23   Stewart-Cousins and Senator Klein, have every 

24   reason to believe that we're going to have a very 

25   prosperous and productive year.  


 1                And think about it -- I said this to 

 2   Senator LaValle before -- how bad a year could it 

 3   possibly be when we have Cardinal Dolan open our 

 4   session?  So I look at that as an auspicious 

 5   beginning.  

 6                I thank everyone for their patience 

 7   and indulgence.  And as some of our colleagues 

 8   said, let's get to work.  

 9                Thank you, Madam President.  

10                (Standing ovation.)

11                THE PRESIDENT:   Thank you, Senator 

12   Flanagan.

13                Senator DeFrancisco.

14                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Yes.  On 

15   behalf of Senator Flanagan, I ask that the 

16   following committee assignments be handed up and 

17   such assignments be filed in the Journal.

18                THE PRESIDENT:   So ordered.

19                Floor Leader.

20                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Before I ask 

21   if there's any further business, something that 

22   Senator Flanagan said troubles me greatly.  I 

23   can't understand why, if Senator Ranzenhofer's 

24   district is the home of Jell-O, that yogurt is 

25   our state snack.  


 1                (Laughter.)

 2                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   I just -- I 

 3   can't understand it.

 4                With that said, is there any further 

 5   business at the desk?  

 6                THE PRESIDENT:   Nothing that 

 7   important.  

 8                (Laughter.)

 9                THE PRESIDENT:   No further business 

10   at the desk.

11                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   That being 

12   the case, the Senate -- excuse me.  Okay, we have 

13   guests.  We have members of the Assembly here to 

14   inform this body of who will be greeting the 

15   Governor as well as they're greeting the Senate.  

16                So if you'd like to say anything, 

17   gentlemen.  

18                ASSEMBLYMAN OAKS:   Thank you, 

19   Senator DeFrancisco.  

20                Assemblyman Farrell and I would like 

21   to inform you have that the Assembly has convened 

22   for the new year -- after adjourning, actually, 

23   sine die, I guess, for last year, taking care of 

24   that business.  But we are organized and ready to 

25   conduct business for the year ahead.  


 1                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Thank you, 

 2   gentlemen.  We appreciate that.  We're looking 

 3   forward to working with you and the rest of the 

 4   members of the Assembly.

 5                That being said, there being no 

 6   further business, I move that we adjourn until 

 7   Monday, January 11th, at 3:00 p.m.

 8                THE PRESIDENT:   On motion, the 

 9   Senate stands adjourned until Monday, 

10   January 11th, at 3:00 p.m., intervening days 

11   being legislative days.

12                SENATOR DeFRANCISCO:   Intervening 

13   days being legislative days.

14                (Whereupon, at 1:13 p.m., the Senate 

15   adjourned.)