With the Democrats taking control the state senate for the first time in more than 40 years, one local legislator is riding the party’s tidal wave of success right to a new leadership role on the Senate floor.
Senator Jeff Klein, a life-long resident of the Bronx who got his start in the state assembly in 1995, and became a member of the senate in 2005, filling the seat of former Senator Guy Velella, now will assume the new role of deputy majority leader, controlling much of the timing associated with votes on the senate floor, when the legislature reconvenes next year.
Klein will now be able to bring more member items back home to the district, and by being a member of the majority-party will have substantial say in how the district lines of the 34th New York State Senate district are redrawn during redistricting that takes place every ten years, next in 2010.
However, at the present time, in a sit down interview with the Senator, Klein said that his main focus would be the current fiscal crisis and finding ways to get money into the hands of working families and taxpayers across the district.
“The economy is the first, second, and third priority; this is the worst financial crisis that any of us have seen, except those who were alive during the great depression of course,” Klein said. “I think that we in the senate can streamline government during this period, and create mechanisms for better economic forecasting. At a time when people are tightening their belts, we need put more of their tax dollars back into their pockets.”
Klein said that he and his colleges are looking at ways to increase sources of revenue without hurting middle class taxpayers.
“We do not want to repeat a fiscal repeat of New York City’s crisis in the 1970s where basic, essential services were cut and people did not want to live in the city any more,” Klein said. “Many accounting mechanisms were put in place that allow for greater transparency and accountability because of that crisis, which will make it easier for the present.”
Klein said that the Republican majority in the state senate, as well as the Republican presidency of the George W. Bush, had much to do with the increase in spending that makes it more difficult to deal with the present crisis, and lead to a drastic increase in the amount of money that the state is short. Despite the adversity, Klein remains committed to helping the middle class.
“Middle class tax cuts in this kind of economic environment make sense,” Klein said. “We are not talking about having working people spend extravagantly. Making sure that families can afford to send to send their kids to private school if they choose, or making sure that their children have extra clothes and shoes, as well as paying for gas so their parents can get to work is what this kind of middle class relief means.”
Klein will better be able to get this done because he will control the floor of the senate and be able to find better ways to get the bills he proposes signed into law.
“I have gone through all of the bills that I proposed in the senate over the past four years, looking at which ones I will reintroduce,” Klein said. “I will have more than a soap box, I will have the ability to get my legislation signed into law.”