What's New

Zack Hutchins
Director of Communications

April 5, 2000

Summary: General Conference Committee meeting

Overview: The first meeting of the general conference committee focused on organizational issues and a review of the legislative leaders' priorities for the coming conference process. The meeting took place at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 5.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said Senate budget priorities are: an increase in the EPIC prescription drug program for seniors; an increase in the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP); a tax deduction for tuition payments; investment in a "NY Soars" program for improving New York's airports; a program to retain and support teachers; increased education aid; and tax cuts.

He noted that New York has enacted more tax cuts in the last five years than 49 other states combined, of which $2.3 billion will take effect this year with another $5 billion to be phased in over the next five years. "And we will do more," he added.

He commended Speaker Silver for reaching agreement on available revenue much earlier in the process than last year. He urged the legislature to stay focused on budget reform. He concluded by encouraging a conference process that would use "good thinking and agreeable negotiations."

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said the Assembly's goal for the conference process is "making New York more competitive in the new millenium." He cited some specific priorities: support for education, including universal pre-kindergarten and aid to help schools to meet new, higher standards; an increase in maximum awards under TAP; improving job-growth, especially in high-tech industries; and targeted tax cuts.

Senate Minority Leader Martin Connor said Senate Minority priorities include: school funding; improvements to insurance for the elderly; tax cuts, especially the gross receipts tax (GRT) and repeal of the marriage penalty; and avoiding the passing on of costs to local governments.

Assembly Minority Leader John Faso expressed concern over the proposed spending increase, which he described as affordable this year but questionable in the out years. He said he preferred to have the surplus used to accelerate repeal of the GRT. He also urged a constitutional amendment for "true debt reform," and he said he supported televising the deliberations of the state Legislature.

Organizational issues: The Committee adopted a joint role requiring the Conference Committees to conclude deliberations and report findings to the full Legislature by April 11 unless an extension is approved.

Recording secretaries were appointed: Michael Avella for the Senate and William Collins for the Assembly.

Committee members: The General Conference Committee includes: Senator Bruno and Speaker Silver, co-chairs; Senators Stafford, Skelos, Velella, and Connor; Assembly members Bragman, Connelly, Farrell, and Faso.

At the April 5 meeting, the legislative leaders appointed members of their conferences to the various subcommittees.

Economic Development Subcommittee: Senator Roy Goodman and Assemblyman Robin Schimminger are CO-chairs Senate members are: Goodman, Alesi, Balboni, DeFrancisco, and Stachowski. Senate alternates are Farley and Schneiderman. Assembly members are: Schimminger, Morelle, Tokasz, Greene, and Winner. The Assembly alternate is Sweeney.

Education Subcommittee: Assemblyman Steven Sanders and Senator John Kuhl are CO-chairs Senate members are: Marcellino, Padavan, Seward, and Oppenheimer; Senate alternates are Meier and Hevesi. Assembly members are: Griffith, Tonko, John, and Flanagan. The Assembly alternate is Vitaliano.

General Government/Local Assistance Subcommittee: Assemblyman Arthur Eve and Senator James Lack are CO-chairs Senate members are: Farley, Hoffmann, Rath, and Gonzalez. Senate alternates are McGee and Breslin. Assembly members are: Abbate, Norman, DiNapoli, and Tedisco. The Assembly alternate is Kaufman.

Higher Education Subcommittee: Assemblyman Edward Sullivan and Senator Kenneth LaValle are CO-chairs Senate members are: Fuschillo, Maltese, Wright, and Lachman. The Senate alternates are Goodman and Santiago. The Assembly members are: Butler, Davis, Tocci, and Ortloff. The Assembly alternate is Canestrari.

Human Services/Labor Subcommittee: Assemblyman Roger Green and Senator Stephen Saland are CO-chairs Assembly members are: Nolan, Boyland, Ramirez, and Barraga. The Assembly alternate is Hooper. Senate members are: Meier, Morahan, Spano, and Mendez. Senate alternates are Maziarz and Duane.

Public Protection Subcommittee: Assemblyman Joseph Lentol and Senator Dale Volker are CO-chairs Senate members are: Lack, Leibell, Nozzolio, and Gentile. Senate alternates are Maltese and Onorato. Assembly members are: Weinstein, Colman, Aubry, and Ferrara. The Assembly alternate is Pheffer.

Health Subcommittee: Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Senator Kemp Hannon are CO-chairs Senate members are: Larkin, Marchi, Rath, and Dollinger. Senate alternates are Fuschillo and Rosado. Assembly members are: Grannis, Clark, Jacobs, and Ravitz. The Assembly alternate is Luster.

Mental Hygiene Subcommittee: Assemblyman James Brennan and Senator Thomas Libous are CO-chairs Senate members are: Maziarz, McGee, Padavan and Montgomery. Senate alternates are Alesi and Kruger. Assembly members are Lafayette, Weisenberg, Parment and Wertz. The Assembly alternate is Christensen.

Transportation/Agriculture/Environment/Housing Subcommittee: Assemblyman Albert Vann and Senator Owen Johnson are co-chairs The Senate members are Bonacic, Marcellino, Trunzo, and Smith. The Senate alternates are Hoffman and Sampson. The Assembly members are Gantt, Brodsky, Lopez, and Alfano. The Assembly alternate is Magee.

Resource allocations: The Committee announced the approximate levels of funding the allocation of which each subcommittee will be debating: for which the subcommittees then announced the allocations to the various committees: general government: $90 million; higher education: $130 million; human services, $25 million; public protection, $25 million; economic development, $20 million; health, $25 million; mental health, $25 million; and transportation/agriculture/environment/housing, $115 million. The remaining $230 million will be reserved for the general conference committee.