NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — For the first time in a decade Democrats will control the state Senate, and for the first time ever, the person at the helm will be a woman.
Andrea Stewart-Cousins has big plans for when she rules the roost.
The incoming majority leader sat down for an exclusive interview with CBS2’s Marcia Kramer on Thursday.
There is going to be a whole new ballgame in Albany next month and with Stewart-Cousins on the pitcher’s mound voters can expect a lot of big plays, including long-stalled legislation that will suddenly become law.
“The list of things that have really been held hostage for so long is vast,” Stewart-Cousins said.
Voting reforms, new gun laws and laws to protect women’s reproductive rights are just some of the many issues that will come to the fore once the longtime Yonkers senator becomes majority leader, ending Republican control of the upper house.
As the first woman to lead the Senate, she will end the so-called “three men in a room” power structure in the state capital.
“The fact that I will get an opportunity to help drive the policies of New York is so significant,” Stewart-Cousins said.
And speaking of driving, Stewart-Cousins does not believe in the inevitability of congestion pricing to solve all the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s problems. She acknowledged that the agency needs money, but representing a Westchester County district where constituents would have to pay to enter New York City has made her open to other ways of raising the needed money. A tax on marijuana sales, a tax on casinos and a payroll tax are all on the table.
“There are a range of options and we intend to look at them all,” Stewart-Cousins said.
Kramer then asked again if congestion pricing is the only solution.
“No, I’ve never said that,” Stewart Cousins said. “We will examine all of the things on the table.”
Also to be examined is the controversial Amazon deal which has ruffled a lot of feathers.
“Employment, job opportunities, economic growth, obviously, we all want that. But the other component that is being raised by community in terms of the lack of transparency and community inclusion in these kinds of deals are extremely important, too,” Stewart-Cousins said.
She said the Senate will also re-examine the state laws guaranteeing that yeshiva students and others who attend religious schools get a well-rounded secular education. That’s a blast at Sen. Simcha Felder, the renegade Democrat who voted with the Republicans for years and blocked meaningful yeshiva reforms.