SYRACUSE (WRVO) - Republican state Sen. John DeFrancisco is weighing in on some big topics facing the Senate before its session ends in June. DeFrancisco said the question of stipends being paid to Democratic and Republican senators has become a huge issue.
The reason it is a huge issue, according to DeFrancisco, is because the Democratic senators receiving stipends are from the Independent Democratic Conference, a group that has broken away from traditional Democrats. He said there is constant pressure on Democrats to unite and take the majority of the Senate, which is currently controlled by Republicans.
“The fact of the matter is, if that ever happened, it would be a New York City only government in the state of New York,” DeFrancisco said.
DeFrancisco is referring to the majority of Democrats in the Assembly and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who both come from New York City.
“Despite all the comments that many people may say Democrats should stick together, Democrats from central New York ought to think really long and hard before they want them to be together and everybody take the philosophy of progressive left of New York City,” DeFrancisco said.
DeFrancisco, who is the deputy leader of Senate Republicans, said he was not involved in the stipend issue. He said it is his understanding that the majority leader in a party has a total amount allocated to provide stipends to committee members.
"The majority leader felt he had the authority, and he's got legal opinion to suggest it's correct, the authority to move the stipends around as long as he didn't exceed the amount of the stipends," DeFrancisco said.
Central and northern New York state Sens. David Valesky and Patty Ritchie were among those who have received stipends. Reports say the state attorney general and at least one U.S. attorney are looking into the matter.