Skelos: Pension Reform, Mandate Relief Up Next

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Attention in the Senate could turn to pension reform and reducing the cost of unfunded state mandates on municipalities, Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, said this morning.

The Senate wrapped up voting late last night on the $132.5 billion state budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year. Among the savings in the state budget is a plan to achieve $450 million in state worker concessions. Skelos said the ball is firmly in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s court on those negotiations, which are currently underway.

“I think now it’s an executive function to negotiate with the unions to see if he can bring savings to the state. This is now between him and the unions, but we’re going to do legislatively is pension reform at least from the Senate Republican point of view, mandate relief and costs that are driving up local government and the state,” he said.

Asked about the chances of an ethics package clearing the Senate — where good-government groups and Democrats have claimed GOP lawmakers have balked at that possibility — Skelos said measures would be taken soon, adding that Republican former Sen. Vincent Leibell and the charged Sen. Carl Kruger, D-Brooklyn, would likely have still gotten in trouble.

“I think we want to negotiate an ethics bill that’s fair,” he said. I don’t think one change in the ethics law would have changed what these individuals did, but we are going to move toward an ethics package, there’s no question about it.”

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