Dave Valesky

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Across the country, Democratic Party primaries have generated a lot of attention, enthusiasm and some surprising results. Primaries in New York have figured in this trend. This week, host Grant Reeher moderates a debate between the two candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in central New York's 53rd state Senate district, incumbent Sen. Dave Valesky and challenger Rachel May. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) has his first Republican opponent in eight years. Economist Janet Burman has decided to run against Valesky, in a district that stretches from the city of Rome in Oneida County into Cayuga County, and includes half of the city of Syracuse.

Burman said she and her husband almost decided to leave New York for a lower taxed state two years ago, but decided against it, because they loved Syracuse. Now she says she’s going to try to do something about those taxes, by running for state Senate.

Tom Fazzio / Syracuse University

Across the country, mainstream Congressional Democrats are being challenged in primaries by more progressive, grassroots-supported candidates. It's also happening in state and local races. This week, Grant Reeher talks with Rachel May, who is challenging central New York state Senator Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) in a primary this September. 

Note: This conversation was recorded June 5, one day after the Oneida County Democratic Committee endorsed May in her race with Sen. Valesky.

Tom Fazzio / Syracuse University

The New York State Senate is changing. The Senate's Independent Democratic Conference, which had operated in a coalition with Republicans, is now dissolving and rejoining with mainline Democrats. This week, Grant Reeher talks with Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida), a founding member of the IDC. They discuss the implications of this change, as well as the recently passed state budget. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) will most likely face a competitive election this year for the first time since 2010.

Rachel May, an administrator at Syracuse University, is running against him in the Democratic Party primary. She has been leading opposition to Valesky in recent months because of his affiliation with the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of breakaway Democrats that shares power with Republicans in the State Senate.

WRVO News

The Independent Democratic Conference, a group of eight Democratic state senators who operate in a coalition with Republicans in the state Senate, has come under increasing criticism by Democrats in the Senate, and across the state. This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with state Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida), a member of the IDC.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

Two rival factions of the Democratic Party in the New York state Senate are making moves toward unification. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State lawmakers and volunteer firefighters are putting pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would provide better coverage for volunteers who develop cancer because of the job they do.

Brian McQueen has been a longtime volunteer with the Whitesboro Fire Department. When he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma several years ago, he was forced to take on the cost of much of the treatment himself. He doesn’t want any other volunteers to have to face that.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

After months of focusing on members of Congress, protesters with the CNY Solidarity Coalition are shifting their attention to the New York State Legislature to push their progressive agenda. They are calling on Democratic state Sen. Dave Valesky to cut his ties with the Independent Democratic Conference. 

Protesters wore black veils and carried fake tombstones at a mock funeral held outside Valesky’s office in Syracuse. Rachel May with CNY Solidarity was among them.

“Dearly beloved, we come here to pay our respects to poor, progressive Bill,” May said.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

Central New York legislators are split on the recent state budget process. While some see significant gains, others see missed opportunities and purely political motivations.

State Sen. David Valesky with the Independent Democratic Conference said there is a lot to be pleased about in the state's new spending plan.

“By and large I think this was a tremendously successful state budget,” Valesky said.

The budget includes infrastructure investments, college affordability and raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old.

Payne Horning / WRVO News File Photo

Some Mohawk Valley lawmakers are trying to form a bipartisan alliance to more effectively advocate for their region in the state legislature.

Utica Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi says he already talks with his Republican Mohawk Valley colleague, Sen. Joe Griffo, on a daily basis. Now he wants to expand those powwows to other representatives from counties like Oneida and Herkimer. He says this informal Mohawk Valley coalition would model itself after other regional alliances.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a Made in America proposal in his state budget, but a group of breakaway Democrats in the State Senate has its own idea about promoting goods manufactured in the United States. 

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News File Photo

A bill vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this month would have given Madison County some of the cash the Oneida Indian nation pays to state as part of a compact that’s been in place between the state and the nation since 2013. Madison County didn’t have gaming at that time, but it does now, and officials say it’s only fair that the county should get in on some of the gambling revenue. 

State Sen. Dave Valesky (D-Oneida) says a veto usually means the end of a story.  But he’s sees a glimmer of hope in this case, in the governor’s veto message.

Tom Magnarelli / WRVO News

The Syracuse Common Council has joined in on an effort from advocates and elected officials to pressure Gov. Andrew Cuomo into signing a bill to give tax credits to geothermal energy. A 30 percent federal tax incentive for geothermal expires at the end of this year.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

Officials in Madison County are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a law that would allow the state to share gaming revenue from the Yellow Brick Road Casino with the county. State law allows a portion of revenue the state gets from Native American run casino’s to be shared with the host county. Since the Yellow Brick Road Casino opened in Chittenango after the law was passed, it didn’t get in on the revenue sharing deal according to Madison County Board of Supervisors John Becker.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

Some state lawmakers want to try out a new job training program for small and medium sized manufacturers in central New York. The state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) wants to spend $500,000 to create a way to train a new pool of workers at a time when a large number of these workers are reaching retirement age.

The average age of an employee in manufacturing today is 56. That’s why Randy Wolken, president and CEO of the Manufacturers Association of Central New York, says a crisis is brewing when it comes time for companies to replace those workers.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News File Photo

An official from Oneida County is threatening legal action over proposed state legislation that would give Madison County more casino revenue from the Oneida Indian Nation.

This week on the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher talks with two veteran Syracuse area lawmakers about the upcoming legislative session, and about the governor's influence over the legislature--and what his overall political agenda has been.  State Senators John DeFrancisco and Dave Valesky offer contrasting views about the governor's use of executive orders, and the need for legislative reform, but largely agree on what the session is likely to focus on, and share an optimistic view of the state budget being passed on time. 

The New York State budget process was different this year than years past. There was a new “man in the room,” and there were many significant policy proposals attached to it; some were incorporated and some were tabled for later consideration.  On this week’s edition of the Campbell Conversations, host Grant Reeher breaks down that process with State Senator Dave Valesky, who argues that the process was actually better in many ways.  Valesky also comments on his Independent Democratic Conference, its new role in the Senate, and its future prospects. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News file photo

New York state Sen. Dave Valesky is among those who are calling this year's budget process a difficult one. The central New York senator and member of the Independent Democratic Conference says that's because of the numerous policy proposals that were included in the governor's original budget plan. 

Valesky says it's not surprising that many of the non-spending items were removed -- like the Dream Act, raising the minimum wage and property tax relief. And the senator says that's probably a good thing. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO News

State Sen. Dave Valesky is optimistic that negotiators will come through with significant increases in public school spending when the state budget plan is finalized.  

The Oneida Democrat notes the both the Senate and the Assembly budgets include almost $2 billion increases in public education spending over last year.  

But, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he won’t approve big spending increases for education unless lawmakers agree to his package of controversial education reforms. Valesky says lawmakers don’t want the two dependent upon each other.

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.

When the New York State Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference joined in a majority coalition with Republicans in 2012, it claimed that the arrangement would provide more up-or-down floor votes on progressive legislation.  In announcing a new intention to caucus with Democrats following this November’s elections, the IDC is claiming that the arrangement will provide….more up-or-down votes on progressive legislation.  How can both claims be true?  That question and others related to political power-sharing arrangements are explored with this week’s guest on the Campbell Conversations—IDC member Senator Dave Valesky.

Kessner likely to drop challenge to Senator Valesky

Jun 26, 2014
Ellen Abbott/WRVO

Jean Kessner has gotten her wish and will likely drop her challenge of state Sen. Dave Valesky in Democratic Party primary.

Kessner, a Democrat herself and Syracuse Common Councilor, was circulating petitions to challenge Valesky (D-Oneida), unless he rejoined the mainstream Democrats in the state Senate.

Valesky has been a member of the Independent Democratic Caucus, which controls the Senate along with the minority Republicans, since 2011.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner continues collecting petition signatures for a possible Democratic primary run for the state Senate seat held by Dave Valesky (D-Oneida). On Tuesday, Kessner supporters rallied in front of the State Office Building in Syracuse.

Kessner says she only wants to run if Valesky stays aligned with the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of breakaway Democrats that, along with Republicans, control the state Senate.  

'Erin's Law' faces hurdles to passing in New York state

Jun 11, 2014
Office of Dave Valesky

For the third year in a row, the New York State Senate passed "Erin's Law," a bill requiring schools to teach age-appropriate sexual abuse and assault awareness to children in pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade.

Erin Merryn, a victim of sexual assault, has come up against some hurdles in her campaign to make it a law in New York state.

When Merryn was six years old she was sexually abused by a neighbor. When she was eleven she was sexually abused again by a cousin for two years. She stayed silent for years.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Democrats in New York state are vowing to take control of the Senate from the coalition leading it now, made up of Republicans and five breakaway Democrats.

Oneida’s Sen. Dave Valesky, a founding member of the Independent Democratic Conference, says he’s staying committed to the power sharing structure, even as some Democrats are calling on him to leave it.

Many members in the more progressive wing of the Democratic party, like Blue Carreker, campaign manager of Citizen Action of New York, wants Valesky to caucus with fellow Democrats.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

There will be skating at the Meachem Ice Rink in Syracuse’s Valley neighborhood starting in October.

The rink closed earlier this year after a series of mechanical problems made it impossible to make ice. State Sen. Dave Valesky and Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli combined forces to get more than $450,000 from the state’s capital budget to pay for installation of an ice mat.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner says it is the latest innovation in the ice rink world.

nysenate.gov

State Sen. Dave Valesky, a founding member of the Independent Democratic Conference believes a recent Siena College poll  gives credence to the coalition between the IDC and Senate Republicans.

The poll shows that 58 percent of New Yorkers like the way the coalition is running the New York State Senate. The Senate is controlled by minority Republicans and the IDC -- a system created a few sessions back, after a problem-filled term when Democrats controlled the Senate.

While tax breaks are the cornerstone of some of the programs in New York state meant to boost business, there are other areas where the state can become an impediment to anyone wanting to do business. A state report released recently points the finger at a bureaucracy that gets in the way.

There are 750,000 regulations on the books in New York state, many of them outdated and never reviewed. And many of them can get in the way of New York's businesses.

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