John DeFrancisco

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

 

Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco is pushing Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation he has sponsored that would give a tax break for renovations that makes housing more accessible for those with limited mobility.

Agnes McCray, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, is an advocate for the legislation.

“It's not so much about disability but the capability and the success of us all,” McCray said. "We cannot rest until there is equal opportunity for all no matter where we are in this community.”

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Lawmakers are struggling to reach end of session deals, as the corruption scandals and on going federal investigations seem to be hampering their progress.  

With just over one week left until the session is scheduled to end, lawmakers seem far apart on many key issues. New York City’s rent regulations expire next week, along with a property tax break for real estate developers who agree to set aside some of their project for affordable housing, known as 421a.  

State Sen. John DeFrancisco is Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, and was involved in the leadership battle in the Senate when former leader Dean Skelos resigned as Majority Leader after being arrested on federal corruption charges. DeFrancisco ultimately lost the leadership role to Long Island Sen. John Flanagan. On this episode of the Campbell Conversations, DeFrancisco speaks with host Grant Reeher about this year's state budget and legislative agenda, the current state of affairs in Albany, the issue of upstate versus downstate, and more. 

nysenate.gov

Senate Leader Dean Skelos has resigned his post, over a corruption scandal, and Republicans have elected Sen. John Flanagan, currently chairman of the Education Committee to be his successor.

Flanagan, a Republican from Long Island, a GOP stronghold in the Senate, became the new leader of the Senate with a unanimous floor vote from his Republican conference.

Matt Ryan / WMHT

Dean Skelos has resigned his position as New York State Senate majority leader after his arrest on federal corruption charges. He becomes the latest leader to lose his power in a state government marred by corruption.

Sen. John Flanagan of Long Island was elected by his fellow Republicans, beating out Syracuse-area Sen. John DeFrancisco.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

State Senate Republicans have been huddling behind closed doors, trying to resolve a leadership crisis now that Majority Leader Dean Skelos has lost the support of his GOP members, after being charged with six federal counts of corruption.

Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse-area Republican who’s been running to replace Skelos, says first, the leader would have to resign, and that is not yet guaranteed.  

“I have not talked to Dean; not anybody that I’ve talked to has a clear answer on that,” DeFrancisco said.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was arrested last week on federal corruption charges, is expected to step down from his leadership position later today, according to multiple reports. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco says he would be shocked if the uncertainty over the leadership of the New York State Senate lasts another week.  Senate Majority leader Dean Skelos was arrested Monday on federal corruption charges.  

Initially, lawmakers agreed to support Skelos. Since then, there has been a growing number of Republican senators publicly calling for him to resign his leadership post.

Matt Ryan / WMHT

Major newspapers in New York state have posted editorials calling for Senate Leader Dean Skelos to resign after the senator and his son were accused of running a corruption scam. But so far, Skelos is hanging on and Republicans are trying hard to carry on business as usual.

Mixy Lorenzo / Flickr

After several weeks of delays, the Cuomo administration’s so-called email summit is scheduled for later this month. It’s in response to criticism of an administration policy that purges most emails of state employees after 90 days.

Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco suggests the administration just start saving emails for a longer period of time, and be done with it.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

Some observers of this year's state budget negotiations in Albany thought that the process was more complicated than in recent years. And they're not alone. Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco says it's amazing the budget ever got done on time.

As the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, DeFrancisco was intimately involved in the budget talks. The Republican says this year was different because Gov. Andrew Cuomo added legislation like education and ethics reform to the state spending plan.

Chris / via Flickr

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says the recently approved state budget took an important first step towards fixing water systems across the state. 

Miner was happy to see a $200 million fund earmarked for fixing water and sewer systems in the spending plan. Getting state support to fix aging infrastructure, is something she, other municipalities and a statewide coalition have been vocal about for months.

DeFrancisco weighs in on education, ethics debates

Mar 9, 2015

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.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

Among the debates in Albany this budget season -- what to do with $5.4 billion in surplus money from a state settlement with banks. Much of that discussion has come down to two options for spending a portion of the cash --either on economic development or infrastructure.

stgermh / Flickr

The New York state budget might end up in court under some potential scenarios, as state lawmakers are discussing possible legal action against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget, and his proposal to link a number of unrelated items, like ethics reform and education changes, to the spending plan.

Cuomo’s budget includes unrelated topics like ethics reform, as well as numerous education policy changes that he’s linked to school aid increases.  And the governor says he’ll hold up the budget past the due date if legislators don’t agree.  

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

New York state Republicans are working together with breakaway Democrats in the state Senate. Syracuse-area Republican Sen. John DeFrancisco says it’s a relationship that worked in the past, though it's different this year.

Two years ago Republicans faced the proposition of being the minority party in the state Senate, so they struck up a deal to share power with the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of five breakaway Democrats.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

Influential central New York State Sen. John DeFrancisco is retiring today, but he’ll go right back to work tomorrow.

DeFrancisco, a Republican from Syracuse, is 68 years old. That means he’s been eligible to retire as a state employee and collect a pension for the past three years. He’s finally doing so, even though he was re-elected to office in November and plans to continue to serve in the Senate.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Look for a feeding frenzy in Albany next spring, when lawmakers have to figure out to do with about $5 billion in unexpected cash.  A group called Rebuild New York Now is creating a coalition of government leaders, organized labor and private business to urge Albany to spend the windfall on fixing the state’s declining infrastructure.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

Talks reportedly continue behind the scenes in Albany regarding a pay raise for New York state lawmakers and other officials. The dean of central New York’s Senate delegation agrees an increase should be in order.

Some government staffers in Albany make more than the lawmakers or state officials they work for. That’s something to consider when it comes to a group of people who haven’t had a raise in 15 years, says Syracuse-area Sen. John DeFrancisco.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

If you have old cell phones that you need to get rid of this holiday season, state Sen. John DeFrancisco has a place for them. DeFrancisco's seventh annual Cell Phones for Soldiers collection drive has commenced.   

L.t Col. Paul Jackson, currently of the Syracuse Recruiting Battalion, was deployed in Afghanistan this time last year. Free calling cards were his lifeline to family and friends back home.

New York State Senate

The New York state Senate got swept up in this year's Republican election wave, with 33 districts in their corner after the votes were counted.

The dean of central New York’s Senate delegation, state Sen. John DeFrancisco, said that’s good news.

On the flip side, it means difficulty for central New York's Democratic Assembly members to push through key agenda items, and reduces the influence of Sen. Dave Valesky, who DeFrancisco shares representation of Syracuse with.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

Recent polls show Republican candidates for state Senate in New York are ahead of their Democratic opponents, offering the GOP new hope that they can retain some control of the Senate chamber in January.

Polls conducted in five battleground Senate races show Republican candidates ahead of their Democratic opponents, even when the Democrat is an incumbent. If they were to win all five seats, they would likely gain control of the state Senate in January.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Two recent surveys have solidified a suburban-city divide over the future of Interstate 81 in Syracuse, with people living outside the city want to see the elevated roadway stay. 

A Siena College/Syracuse Media Group poll released over the weekend found that people living outside of Syracuse’s borders want to see the highway’s path through downtown preserved, compared to an urban boulevard replacing the aged roadway.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

A key oversight board approved half of the amount Gov. Andrew Cuomo had sought for a loan from a clean water fund to help pay for the construction of the Tappan Zee Bridge. But the meeting included accusations from a board member that Cuomo administration officials are trying to hide bad news about future toll hikes on the bridge and the rest of the New York State Thruway.

Public Authorities Control Board member, state Sen. John DeFrancisco, cast the deciding vote to go ahead with the loan that was reduced from around $500 million to just over $250 million.

Karen DeWitt

Environmentalists are urging a key review board to vote no on a request from the Cuomo administration to help finance the rebuilding of a major Thruway bridge with a fund designed for municipal clean water projects.  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration wants to use money from a revolving loan fund, designed to help local governments keep their sewer and water treatment systems up to date and their drinking water clean, to instead help pay for the massive Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project.

Senate Republicans have a new strategy in what’s shaping up to be an election battle for control of the New York state Senate. They say now that a group of breakaway Democrats is abandoning them and rejoining the rest of the Democrats, the Senate will be dominated by New York City liberals who won’t care about upstate and Long Island.

The five-member Independent Democratic Conference  announced it would break its nearly two-year-old  alliance in ruling the Senate with the Republicans, and plans to join the Democrats in a coalition government after the November elections.

Durrie Bouscaren / WRVO File

Upstate will be the big loser if a new power change in the state Senate goes through, according to one high ranking state Senate Republican.

Syracuse-area state Sen. John DeFrancisco says if history tells us anything, it’s that upstate New York doesn’t fare well when downstate Democrats control all branches of government in New York state.

"Upstate will be shafted, to put it in the vernacular, if New York City is running everything again," DeFrancisco said.

He says voters need to know how upstate will be affected by the power shift.

dank depot / via Flickr

Updated, 3:50 p.m.:

After a lengthy debate of several hours, the medical marijuana bill was approved in the state Senate, and now goes to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has said he'll sign it. 

Sponsor Sen. Diane Savino says she’s "gratified" by the larger than expected number of yes votes, including some surprise votes from traditionally conservative senators.

Brett Levin / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that there's still a chance the state legislature could pass a medical marijuana bill that he would sign.

Only five days remain in this year's session, and the governor had previously said that he it was unlikely any major issues would pass by then. But in an interview today with the public radio show "Capitol Pressroom," Cuomo declared that medical marijuana legislation is not dead.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The fallout from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new alliance with the progressive Working Families Party continues at the state Capitol, with those who say they represent upstate interests dismayed at the development.

Brian Sampson, with the business friendly group Unshackle Upstate, had planned to begin his organization’s final push on several items they wanted to see passed in the legislature. But he arrived at the Capitol just after Cuomo struck a deal with the progressive Working Families Party to help Democrats take over the state Senate.

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