Senate Republicans took aim Tuesday at a program first created by Governor Andrew Cuomo, introducing a plan that would mothball START-UP New York, which critics say has failed to create a significant number of jobs.
"That alone should make us a take a hard look and say 'do we even need this program?' " said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.
The money saved from no longer promoting the program, which provides tax-free zones for businesses that create jobs, would go toward tourism.
"I think that money is far better redirected to tourism and things of that nature," Flanagan said.
It was just one example of how Senate Republicans in recent weeks have taken an increasingly hard line against Cuomo, a Democrat who has worked well with them during his time in office. The GOP conference remains skeptical of the governor's plan to circumvent a $10,000 federal cap on state and local tax deductions, the details of which were released this week.
"I mean, my visceral reaction is I think all of our colleagues are opposed to that. But the governor is putting it out there," Flanagan said. "It's his prerogative. Do I think it can get done by the end of March? No."
Flanagan meanwhile also endorsed his colleague, Senator John DeFrancisco, in the race for governor. It was a show of unity for the two lawmakers who competed for the majority leader post in 2015. Flanagan insisted the endorsement won't make it difficult to negotiate the budget with Cuomo, who is seeking a third term.
"Absolutely not. We'll have it out," Flanagan said. "We'll pass the budget on time."
The worsening dynamic between Republicans and Cuomo could benefit Senate Democrats, who are seeking to gain a working majority in the Senate as early as the spring, pending the outcome of two special elections.
"In an age when Donald Trump is president, when the policies coming out of Washington are targeting New York specifically because we're a blue state, the Republicans in the Senate who defend Trump are out of step with the people," said Sen. Mike Gianaris (D - Queens).
Liberals have accused Cuomo over the years of working too closely with Republicans in the Senate. But last year, Cuomo backed a plan to unify the Democratic factions in the chamber and help the party take over.