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Valesky says legislature will now have more time to consider policy items dropped from budget

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. 

"The fact of the matter is, we still have three months of the regular legislative session -- plenty of time to address some of these other issues that did not get included as part of the budget," said Valesky. "And now, we have an opportunity have a more open, vigorous debate on some of these issues, because they are not clouded by the fiscal policy of the state."

Valesky says the education reforms that did pass in the state budget last week were extremely challenging but did come with funding important to central New York. 

Ethics reform was the other policy item that Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted make it into the budget. And it was one of the most complicated and bitterly fought policies in the negotation process last week. Valesky says he understands why many of his colleagues who rely on outside income -- particularly those who are attorneys -- had problems with the ethics reforms. The reforms included rules expanding the disclosure of outside income.

But Valesky says he thinks the discussion over state legislators' income rules will have to expand.

"I think ultimately we will have to have in this state, sooner or later, a serious conversation and debate about moving to a full-time legislature, from the perspective of banning all outside income," said the senator.

While the job of New York state senator and assembly member is technically considered part-time, Valesky points out that Congress does severely limit outside income for its senators and representatives.