What do state senators discuss when they vote on budget bills in the wee hours of the morning? Vampires, peanut brittle and kumquats, if the early Wednesday debate serves as an example.
Fruit and Dracula-related metaphors were plentiful late Tuesday and early Wednesday, as the state Senate debated for seven hours on the merits of a $135 billion spending plan they ended up approving around 4:30 a.m.
Freshman Sen. Terry Gipson got things started early, repeatedly dubbing the budget a “vampire bill” because the Senate had taken it up in the middle of the night. The Rhinebeck Democrat has sponsored a bill that would prohibit such late-night votes, which he pushed several times throughout the debate.
The metaphor mania really got going after 1 a.m. when Sen. George Latimer, D-Rye, rose to speak about the education, labor, housing and family assistance portion of the budget. He used the image of a Christmas gift basket to make the case against the state’s system for voting on the budget, which allows a massive amount of issues to be tied together and voted on in a series of bills, which doesn’t allow lamwakers to vote individually on a specific policy issue such as a minimum wage increase.
Here’s a taste (and you can watch Latimer’s comments here):
“This is very much like one of those gift baskets that you either receive or give at Christmastime, and inside that gift basket is a bottle of wine, there’s a can of nuts, there’s some cookies, there’s some fruit,” Latimer said. “And when you open up the gift basket, you like the wine, you don’t like the peanut brittle. You like the shortbread cookies, but you don’t like the kumquats. You have to either take the whole basket or send it back to your aunt and say, ‘Sorry, I didn’t really like the basket.’”
For whatever reason, the kumquat line stuck. Several senators carried on the metaphor during the remainder of the debate, referring to specific issues they didn’t agree with inside the budget bills as a “kumquat.”
Gipson, however, said he preferred his original image.
“I appreciate my colleague’s comparison using fruit as a metaphor,” Gipson said later in the debate. “But I’m going to stick with vampires. This is a vampire bill. We should be doing this in the light of day.”
“Thank you, Count Gipson,” Sen. Joseph Griffo replied, to big laughs in the chamber.