Independent Democratic Caucus To Get Committee Chairs And $12,500 Stipends

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The Independent Democratic Conference is getting committee chairmanships from the Senate Republicans — and they are each getting $12,500 stipends.

The group — Sens. Jeff Klein of the Bronx, Diane Savino of Staten Island, David Carlucci of Clarkstown, Rockland County and David Valesky of Syracuse — had broke away from the Democratic conference to form their own caucus. As a result, they did not receive any stipend for serving on legislative committees.

That changed today, however, when Senate Republicans decided to give the breakaway Democrats with the perks of serving as committee chairmen — and an extra $12,500 stipend on top of their $79,500 salaries.

Klein will serve as chairman of the Committee on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, a once defunct committee.

Savino is serving as head of the Children and Families committee; Valesky is serving as chairman of the Aging Committee and Carlucci is serving as co-chairman of the Adminstrative Regulations Review Commission, a joint panel with the Assembly.

The move comes as Senate Republicans were set to adopt new rules in the chamber that Democrats said would strip the power of the lieutenant governor to break tie votes on procedural matters. But the rules changes didn’t pass the Senate Rules Committee, so it wasn’t taken up on the floor of the Senate today.

Nonetheless, Senate Democrats ripped Republicans for move. In particular, Klein has lobbied against increasing the size of government but is set to get a chairmanship for a new committee.

“They unnecessarily created a committee to purchase the loyalty of their newest member. Instead of reducing government, they’re only making it bigger and more costly for the public It’s clear this was never about independence, but power, perks, and now the payoff,” said Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Senate Democratic Conference.

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