Senate Debates Budget Without Hassell-Thompson

ALBANY—Debate over the budget has begun in the State Senate without any sign of Senator Ruth Hassell-Thomspon, who was taken to the hospital earlier today.

"Debate has started, and we expect Senator Hassell-Thompson will be here to vote on the budget," said Austin Shafran, a spokesman for Majority Leader Malcolm Smith.

As the chair of the Finance Committee, Democrat Carl Kruger is in the thick of the debate. He was asked to rise for a question on the bill from Republican Senator John DeFrancisco, a few moments after a Republican colleague, Steve Saland, referred to the State Senate as a "gulag."

"And before I answer the questions, Senator De-fran-ches-co, I will forgive Senator Saland for calling our chamber a gulag," Kruger said.

"And before I ask the question, I will forgive Senator Kruger for calling me Senator De-fran-ches-co," DeFrancisco replied.

As someone who attended earlier budget hearings, I can attest this has been going on for a long time.