by Jeremy Moule
[UPDATED 6 p.m.] Legislature Republicans sent out this statement by Majority Leader Steve Tucciarello:
"The Republican Majority is honored that the voters in the last election chose to increase the size of our caucus," says the statement. "The size of each legislative office budget should be a direct reflection of each caucus’s representation in the overall legislature. The current outdated practice thwarts the intent of the electorate and this proposal honors the will of the voter."
In November, Democrats lost a seat in the Legislature when Joe Carbone defeated Stephanie Aldersley — the incumbent — in a special election.
Original post: The relationship between Republicans and Democrats in the Monroe County Legislature was strained before, but now the two sides are engaged in straight-up partisan warfare.
At the moment, the Republican majority is on the offensive, which turned Tuesday night’s Legislature meeting into a skirmish. And the GOP has now proposed legislation to cut funding for the Democratic office by 10 percent.
The cut would take $16,000 out of the Dems’ approximately $170,000 budget. The caucus would be forced to make some sort of cut to cover the funding loss, Democratic leader Carrie Andrews said during a press conference this afternoon.
“This is an unprecedented attack on the minority office,” she said.
Andrews and several other legislators said that the proposed funding cut, which is likely to pass since Republicans have a 19 to 10 majority in the Legislature, is retaliation. They said they're being targeted because they called for former Monroe Community Hospital director Todd Spring's resignation after a state report said Spring had mistreated a patient, and because they called for the reactivation of the hospital’s defunct oversight board. They said they’re also being punished for criticizing authority appointments. (Spring was fired, and the oversight board is starting up again.)
Democrats have also held up borrowing on a road project and a bridge construction project. They say they're doing it to make the point that their proposals deserve to be heard but are routinely stifled by Legislature Republicans.
A staffer at the Republican legislators’ office said caucus leaders would issue a statement in response to the Democrats.