ALBANY - Senate Republicans lost the majority on Election Day. But they are staying with the same leader in January.
Sen. John Flanagan, R-Suffolk County, was elected Friday as the minority leader in the Senate in a 14-9 vote by the GOP conference during a closed-door meeting at the Capitol.
Flanagan was able to secure more votes in the 23-member conference than Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean, Cattaraugus County, who was also vying for the post.
Flanagan will head the conference when the new legislative session starts in January. He had been the Senate majority leader since 2015.
"I’m going to travel all around the state. I’m going to work with all of my colleagues, as I have done year after year after year," Flanagan told reporters.
Senate Republican clung to a one-seat majority heading into the Nov. 6 elections, but were decimated at the polls, losing eight seats on Election Day.
Democrats will hold the majority for the first time since 2010 after big election wins on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.
Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, will be the Senate majority leader.
Now Republicans will be the opposition voice in the Senate, with Democrats controlling all of state government. Democrats have a large majority in the Assembly, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, was elected to a third term this month.
"Now that they have been given the mantle of governing, I will match my ability to articulate our positions with anyone, and we’re ready to go right at it," Flanagan said.
Democrats in charge
Flanagan said he is concerned Democrats will look to raise taxes, try to undue the state's property-tax cap and install an expensive single-payer health care system.
But Cuomo and Stewart-Cousins have countered that they are neither planning to raise taxes nor infringe on the tax cap. Cuomo in recent days has raised concern about the cost of a single-payer sought by some Democrats.
"Single player health plan, for example, conceptually, I believe it is the right direction to go in," Cuomo said Thursday on "The Capitol Pressroom," a public radio show.
"I believe it's much more feasible financially on a federal, national level. No state has been able to finance the transition cost."
Flanagan won the support of enough upstate members to beat Young for the post, which comes with a stipend of $34,500. The majority leader post pays $41,500.
Lawmakers get a base pay of $79,500, but get additional money for leadership positions.