After four on-time state budgets, this year's debate over in Albany over the spending plan seems particularly contentious. Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Republican from the Syracuse area, has had some choice words for the governor, a Democrat. DeFrancisco is also chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.
On teachers unions
DeFrancisco says Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not being politically smart by continuing his war of words with the teachers in New York state and their union.
Cuomo has called the teacher’s unions and their allies a “bloated bureaucracy” that works against the interests of the students. His remarks have led to large protests at the Capitol by teachers, and negative TV ads by the union. DeFrancisco, who represents central New York constituents in parts of Cayuga, Oswego and Onondaga Counties, says Cuomo is making a political misstep.
“It’s incredible to me, quite frankly,” DeFrancisco says. “Someone who’s supposed to be such a great politician from a political family to just incite, for the sole purpose of inciting, boggles the mind, especially now that we’re closer to a deadline for the budget.”
The governor has made school aid increases contingent on changes to teacher evaluations, and stricter tenure requirements, among other things.
DeFrancisco says he supports getting rid of bad teachers with reforms to the disciplinary hearing process, but he say he doesn’t blame good teachers for fighting back.
On ethics reform
Senate Republicans in the chamber recently drafted a bill that would require that the income of domestic partners also be made public. Some senators say if Cuomo wants them to disclose more information about their finances, then the governor should have to as well. This would affect’s Cuomo’s girlfriend whom he lives with, the Food Network star and millionaire Sandra Lee.
DeFranciso says it’s only fair.
“Why would that be any different that someone who is your significant other is earning income from different sources? How does anybody know, unless there’s disclosure, what those sources are? And how is it different than a legislator? I think that’s perfectly reasonable, that what’s good for the legislative branch should be good for all government.”
Other senators in the chamber seem more interested in making a point than actually holding up the budget over the issue. DeFrancisco says he does not expect senators to press that the bill be included in the state budget, which is due March 31.
Cuomo’s demand that legislators disclose their outside income comes in the wake of the arrest of the former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who is charged with using his political power to fraudulently net millions of dollars from two private law firms.