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NYS Senate Leader: Taxes On The Table, Talk With Cuomo Since Resignation Call Didn't Cover Probes

NYS Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Karen DeWitt
NYS Senate Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins

The leader of the New York State Senate briefed reporters Tuesday on the status of the budget and embattled Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

More than weeks ago, New York State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins became the highest-ranking Democrat in the state to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign as he faces multiple allegations of sexual harassment. Stewart-Cousins’ move set off a spate of similar calls from Cuomo’s fellow Democrats at all levels of government. But Cuomo has resisted calls to step down, denying he inappropriately touched anyone and saying the investigations into his behavior should be completed first.

That, plus the pandemic, are the backdrop for a highly unusual budget negotiation season in Albany as the April 1 deadline looms. Stewart-Cousins told reporters she has spoken with Cuomo since calling for him to resign.

"No, the probes do not come up, and we have spoken once. It was a normal budget discussion, and our staffs are discussing around the clock about the budget," she said.

Stewart-Cousins said she will not comment on the Assembly’s impeachment investigation into Cuomo, which Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Lavine said could take months.

"I have had no discussions with the Speaker about the process that his house has undertaken, nor would I expect the Speaker to have any discussions with me about the processes that we undertake. We are separate houses," she said. "I've not had any conversation with him about the process. And my focus continues to be, the focus of our conference, is doing the job that we're sent here to do."

A separate independent investigation overseen by the office of Democratic Attorney General Tish James is said to be moving much faster.

Stewart-Cousins, who says an agreement on legalizing recreational marijuana is imminent, also pushed back on claims by Cuomo’s budget director Monday that new federal COVID relief removes the need for tax hikes favored by the legislature.

"We are still looking at revenue raisers," she said. "We put a number of them on the table. And I think it's important that we recall that before we got into this budget season, we had a deficit of billions and billions of dollars. and so we are looking at a way to sustain our ability to pay for the things that we know are important and that we know New Yorkers need."

A lifelong resident of the Capital Region, Ian joined WAMC in late 2008 and became news director in 2013. He began working on Morning Edition and has produced The Capitol Connection, Congressional Corner, and several other WAMC programs. Ian can also be heard as the host of the WAMC News Podcast and on The Roundtable and various newscasts. Ian holds a BA in English and journalism and an MA in English, both from the University at Albany, where he has taught journalism since 2013.
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