ALBANY – Sen. Catharine Young defended herself against criticism by some upstate groups that she abandoned her geographic responsibilities by supporting a Long Island Republican this week to become Senate majority leader.
Young, an Olean Republican, said Flanagan has “committed” to making changes to the SAFE Act gun control law. “I’m very excited because it’s the first real movement we’ve seen since it was passed,’’ Young said of the 2013 gun law.
On Tuesday, Flanagan told The Buffalo News that he is open to changes to the law, which he supported in 2013, including provisions such as those limiting the number of bullets that can be in a magazine.
Young was one of only two Republicans from west of Syracuse to back Flanagan over Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse-area Republican, in the quick internal campaign to take over as Senate majority leader after Dean Skelos, its former occupant arrested on corruption charges last week, relinquished his hold on the office on Monday afternoon.
In all, six Republicans from north of New York City backed Flanagan in the close contest in which Flanagan got 18 votes and DeFrancisco received 15. In the subsequent floor vote, all Republicans backed Flanagan.
Young said it was Flanagan, as head of the Senate education committee, who pushed hardest to further reduce the blow by a budget-balancing maneuver known as the Gap Elimination Adjustment that dug into the amount of state aid to schools. She said he was behind the effort to ensure that poorer, rural districts – which makes up much of Young’s district – would benefit more quickly from the higher funding flow over wealthier districts that he represents in Suffolk County.
Young said there was no “arrangement” for her backing of Flanagan. Senators have said Young could be in line to become Senate Deputy Majority Leader. The current holder of that office is Sen. Tom Libous, who is fighting cancer and has been absent from Albany and is due to go on trial in July on charges he lied to the FBI during an investigation of his son.
Young said Flanagan has been to her Western New York district many times. “He understands, because he has been to my region, that we need jobs and opportunities and he is very committed to helping the entire state, including my region,’’ she said.
The Olean Republican downplayed talk of any primary bids against her because of her Flanagan support. “I think the people in my district recognize how hard I work for them,’’ she said this morning after the Senate concluded a dizzying few days at the Capitol.