He has a new title, and he goes to work in a different chamber inside the State Capitol building in Albany.
Now a State Senator, Jose Peralta has hit the ground running, and he has thrust himself right into the middle of one of the most difficult budget negotiations in state history.
“It’s been a long, long week, but I feel that it’s been worth it because I have gotten a sense of who the players are in the Senate working with the Assembly and carving out what the priorities are for the budget,” Peralta said by phone on Monday, March 29, just hours after legislators left Albany for the religious holiday break.
Peralta, a Democrat who had served in the Assembly for nearly 10 years before he won a Special Election on March 16, said the biggest difference between serving in the Assembly and State Senate is the importance of every legislator’s vote. Currently, the Democrats control the State Senate by a 32-30 margin while they hold a more than 50-seat advantage in the Assembly.
“Here being number 32 – meaning that any single legislator can stop anything – it’s very, very different,” Peralta said. “With that comes much more responsibility.”
During his Special Election campaign, Peralta spoke about restoring credibility and stability back to the Senate seat after its last occupant, Hiram Monserrate, was removed from office after he was convicted of one misdemeanor count of reckless assault on his girlfriend.
In addition, Peralta knew that the current $9.2 billion budget deficit and minimizing the negative impact cuts would have on his western Queens district would be his first challenge – a sentiment echoed by Community Board 3 District Manager Giovanna Reid.
“We definitely need to bring money to the community to address the issues we have. It doesn’t look like we’ll have summer jobs for the kids,” Reid said.
Although the legislators left Albany on Monday without finalizing a budget, which means they will not meet the April 1 budget deadline again this year, Peralta believes they will get a deal in place by the end of April.
“We hope he’ll be able to do the job,” said Reid. “He was born and raised in the district so he’s definitely our favorite son.” – With additional reporting by Claudia Cruz