Two of Cayuga County's three state senators will serve on an influential committee that plays a vital role during the budget process.
State Sens. Bob Antonacci and Jim Seward landed seats on the Senate Finance Committee. Seward, R-Milford, was named ranking member of the panel by Senate Minority Leader John Flanagan.
The finance committee's main responsibility is helping draft the annual state budget. With the Democratic takeover of the state Senate, it will be chaired by state Sen. Liz Krueger.
Seward, who is beginning his 17th term as a state senator, said Thursday that he's eager to bring an upstate perspective to state budget negotiations as the Republicans' top representative on the panel.
"I am already concerned that proposals being discussed in Albany will cost too much and will not reflect the ideals of much of our state," he added in a statement.
Seward will also serve the education, higher education, insurance and rules committees. He is the former chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee.
For Antonacci, receiving a seat on the Senate Finance Committee is an impressive feat. Seats on the committee are usually reserved for veteran members, not freshmen like the Syracuse-area Republican.
But Antonacci's financial background helped him. He is a certified public accountant and before being elected to the state Senate, he served for 10 years as Onondaga County comptroller.
"As the former fiscal watchdog of Onondaga County, I look forward to bringing my experience to the Finance Committee with a focus on scrutinizing the budget to curb wasteful spending," Antonacci said in a statement. "I will work hard for the taxpayer to hold the state government accountable for every dollar spent."
Antonacci's other committee assignments include serving as ranking member of the Senate Banks Committee and the Subcommittee on Revenue and Budget.
The third member of Cayuga County's state Senate delegation, state Sen. Pam Helming, also received multiple key assignments. She will be the top Republican on the Senate Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee. She will remain on the Commission on Rural Resources as ranking minority member.
Helming, R-Canandaigua, is entering her second term in the state Senate. She was first elected in 2016.
"These two committee leadership assignments reflect the priorities I have fought for on behalf of the hardworking taxpayers of the Wayne-Finger Lakes region," she said in a statement. "One of the top concerns I hear about from constituents is the need to improve upstate New York's business climate to create jobs in our communities. We need to focus on reducing the bureaucratic red tape that job-creating businesses face so that we can grow our economy and create new opportunities for local workers."
Cayuga County's three state senators are serving in the minority conference. It's the first time since 1935 the county hasn't had any majority representatives in the state Legislature.
In the state Assembly, the county is represented by longtime Assemblyman Gary Finch and Assemblyman Brian Manktelow, a newcomer who replaced retired state Assemblyman Bob Oaks.
The legislative session opened Wednesday. It will continue next week with session days on Monday and Tuesday. Gov. Andrew Cuomo will deliver a joint State of the State-budget address Tuesday.