Assembly Republicans voted in a new leader and talk about the important issues of 2013. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman has more.
NEW YORK STATE -- As a leadership battle brews in the State Senate, which party controls the State Assembly was never much in doubt. But Assembly Republicans, who on Wednesday re-elected Brian Kolb as Minority Leader for another term, say they're focused on a variety of fiscal issues, ranging from the budget to the looming 45 percent toll hike for commercial trucks on the Thruway.
Assemblyman Tony Jordan said, “2013 is going to be a real challenge. Revenues continue to be a difficulty for the state. That means we need to really step up and bring about significant reform to the expenditure side of the budget.”
Republicans are again turning to Kolb, a six-term lawmaker, to be their leader in a chamber controlled by Democrats since the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. This year, Republicans lost four seats in the chamber, with the Democratic ranks swelling to 105 out of 150. A race in a newly drawn Long Island district is being decided by absentees.
“I think we did a good job. Did we want to lose any seats? Of course not. But I don't think the fight in us is any less,” Kolb said.
Kolb says he wants to keep his focus on the state spending and helping businesses by using a variety of means to gain attention to their issues.
Kolb said, “We're always going to stand up for business. We're always going to stand up for families. And that's what the job of a minority member is to articulate or stand on the soap box or introduced legislation.”
Despite their status, the Assembly Republicans faced pressure from Governor Andrew Cuomo in December 2011 to approve an overhaul of the tax code. Cuomo wanted a unanimous vote and called Kolb that night to warn of the consequences of voting no.
“The great thing about Brian, he never tells us how to vote. He tells us the same thing every time. Vote for what's best for your district and do what's right for your district first and foremost,” Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin said.
Kolb was first elected minority leader in 2009 after Republican Jim Tedisco stepped down during his failed Congressional campaign in a special election to replace Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.