ALBANY – With less than two weeks left in the year and the 2017 state legislature session to start in early January, Assemblyman Pete Lopez (R, Schoharie) remains concerned about a possible special session called by the Democratic governor.
At issue would be pay raises for state lawmakers. Lopez, a member of the Republican minority, said Governor Cuomo is “cagily trying to extract things” from the Democratic leadership in the legislature. If he [Cuomo] does not work things out with his own party, it could impact the governor’s political future, Lopez predicted.
“The governor is cagily using this to extract things from the legislature, and there is a war at this point between the Democratic majority in the Assembly in particular, and the governor’s office and it is a very dangerous game that the governor is engaged in here because that’s his base,” Lopez said. “So, if he doesn’t find a way to bring this home between now and the first of the year, he is going into an election cycle; in two years he is running again for governor facing downstate legislators who are going to be very unhappy with him.”
The Republican lawmaker, whose district extends from Saugerties to Albany, would rather see reimbursements for district travel than a pay increase, but an alternative could be what Congress does, offer a cost of living increase.
Lopez said because of the size of his district, it costs him some $20,000 to $30,000 annually out of pocket in travel expenses.
He maintains the governor wants stronger ethics reform and limits on outside income, issues that he is battling over with the Democratic Assembly leadership.