NYS budget talks continue in Albany, diversity lacking a role in the conversation

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – As budget talks begin, eyes look to the leaders of each house in the legislature to see what is expected to be decided behind closed doors.

But, as a few women pointed out this weekend, it is only men that sit in that room with the Governor and that needs to change considering one of the biggest issues deals with sexual harassment.

“We voted against the resolution as it appeared in our house,” said Democratic Conference Leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D – Yonkers)

Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins is a major player in state politics.

As Senate Minority leader, she plays a critical role in making sure her voice is heard after the Democratic Conference voted against the Senate’s proposed budget for not addressing things like the federal SALT deductions, gun laws and ethics reform.

Now, some want her voice heard in budget negotiations with the Governor, especially with issues such as sexual harassment reform on the table.

Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader, Jeff Klein (IDC – Bronx) and other members of the IDC received a letter this weekend from four women who plan to challenge a few of the members in the primary, asking them to include Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins in the budget negotiations.

Much of the budget talks happen with the Governor and the leaders from the Senate, Assembly, and IDC in a room. But considering they are all men, these women are saying as a leader, Stewart-Cousins, is needed to help decide important issues such as sexual harassment reform.

“I’m always hoping to be included in the talks, there are critical issues as I said that are facing us and I think that my voice and the voice of my conference are important components,” Stewart-Cousins said.

“I welcome all input. I want to work with my Republican colleagues, my Democratic colleagues, my IDC colleagues. Hopefully all together we can pass an on time budget,” Klein said.

The budget is due in less than two weeks.

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