ALBANY – A Western New York lawmaker has been tapped to head the powerful Senate Finance Committee, a post that wields influence over the annual creation of the state government’s $150 billion budget.
Sen. Catharine Young, an Olean Republican, was named to the job Wednesday by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan. Last year, Young was one of several upstate Republicans who backed Flanagan, a Suffolk County Republican, over Syracuse-area Republican Sen. John DeFrancisco for the Senate majority leader’s post. Flanagan became the top Republican following the arrest of then-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos on federal corruption charges; Skelos was convicted last month.
Young becomes the first woman to hold the Senate Finance Committee chairmanship.
“It is great news for my district and all of Western New York because it gives our region greater clout and a stronger voice in the state budget process,” Young said in an interview Wednesday. She said the position will give her greater influence in pressing for state dollars for infrastructure improvements and aid to public schools.
“Many people in our region, especially in rural regions, feel we’re so far away from Albany that it’s sometimes hard to have a voice. This new position and opportunity gives me an opportunity to deliver … This is a way for my constituents to have an even stronger representation in Albany,” she said.
Young replaces DeFrancisco, the longtime chairman of the finance committee.
Young joined the Assembly 18 years ago and was elected to the Senate in 2005. She grew up on a dairy farm in Livingston County and graduated from St. Bonaventure University. A longtime member of the Senate Finance Committee, Young said she will retain her position as head of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, the central fundraising and campaign group for the Senate Republicans.
Young represents the 57th Senate District, a sprawling area that includes Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany counties and part of Livingston County.
“As an experienced legislator and the first woman to hold this important position, I know Sen. Young will do an outstanding job advocating for our conference’s budget priorities and helping us pass another on-time spending plan this year,” Flanagan said.