Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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Another Assembly democrat to retire

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Another Assembly democrat to retire
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Assembly Majority Leader Ron Canestrari says he won't seek another term in office. He's the third democrat to announce this year that he's planning to retire at the end of his term, making many wonder what it could mean for the democrat led Assembly. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman reports.

NEW YORK STATE -- Longtime Assemblyman Ron Canestrari is the latest among his colleagues in the legislature to announce retirement plans. Lawmakers are leaving the chamber in droves, either through retirement, finding a new job as a mayor or county executive or becoming a member of Governor Andrew Cuomo's cabinet.

“I think it mostly has to do with the clock ticking. You know, a few of us are at that age. Maybe some say we should have gone before. But I think it's more a function of time ticking, people wanting either professionally or personally and I don't view it anything more than individual choices,” Canestrari said.

But it's possibly more than that. Consider that Assembly members Bob Reilly of Clifton Park, Jack McEneny of Albany, both Democrats, and Republican Teresa Sayward all announced they would not run for re-election in the fall. Cuomo, meanwhile, has been on a hiring binge in the chamber, most recently nominating Bronx lawmaker Peter Rivera to become labor commissioner.

“It's probably time for that next generation behind us to come in and to make their mark,” McEneny said.

But state lawmakers, who receive a base pay of $79,500, haven't seen a pay raise in more than a decade. Though two straight years of early budgets have fueled talk of a pay increase, the idea would likely fall flat with voters.

“The fact that they have not received a pay raise in more than a decade probably does have an impact on their decision,” said Siena pollster Steve Greenberg.

Attention at the Capitol is now turning to who takes Canestrari's job as majority leader, one of the top leadership posts that comes with a $34,500 stipend. Speculation is focusing on Assemblyman Joe Morelle of Monroe County, a longtime Cuomo supporter.

“There are a number of people that I'm sure are interested and could do the job very, very well and that will be the speaker's call, of course. The institution will survive and things will go well,” Canestrari said.

Perhaps the most closely watched retirement announcement is for that of powerful Speaker Sheldon Silver. But the Manhattan Democrat says he has no plans to step down anytime soon.

Silver said, “I like this job, I like the ability to be able to accomplish and at the point when I no longer have that ability that's when I think of retiring.”

Silver first became speaker in 1994 and by 2016 would surpass Schenectady's Oswald Heck as the longest to serve in the job.

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