Little: GOP serious about redistricting, but focus is budget

A former mayor of New York City blasted the state Senate's Republican majority this week for allegedly punting on redistricting reform.

Ed Koch called the GOP majority "dishonorable" for not following through on a campaign promise made during last fall's election.

Lawmakers redraw election district lines every 10 years. Traditionally, the party in power uses the process to protect its majority and keep incumbents in office.

Koch says Republicans signed a pledge last year promising reform - he also claims that pledge swept many candidates into office.

After meeting with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos earlier this week, Koch learned that Republicans want a constitutional amendment on redistricting reform. That could take at least 10 years to take effect.

But state Senator Betty Little defended the delay on redistricting reform, noting that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is demanding a budget be in place by April 1.

And right now, getting a fiscal plan in place is the Senate's top priority - not redistricting reform, Little says.

"We're talking about three or four more weeks before the first of April and we're trying to do a budget on time," she said.

"There are a lot of serious cuts and proposals in the budget that we're looking at," Little added. "I'm on one of the conference committees where we in the Senate are trying to put together our answer to the governor's budget. And it's difficult; everybody knows that it's difficult, because there isn't any money."

According to Little, the Senate is trying to find money in the budget that can be removed from one program and added to other, more important programs.

She says lawmakers have been busy meeting with school administrators and health care officials who are concerned about major cuts to state aid.

"So I think it's more about that than it is about not wanting to do independent redistricting," Little said. "I think the Senate supports independent redistricting."

Like Skelos, Little says redistricting reform should come in the form of an amendment to the state's constitution - that way, any reform becomes permanent.

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