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July 2008

Dean Skelos NY Senate Majority Leader

Greek-American State Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was elected Senate majority leader late last June, entrusted with preserving his party's slim hold on its only power base in state government. He succeeded Joseph Bruno, 79, who announced he would not seek re-election this fall to the seat he's held since 1976. Skelos, 60, was crucial to Bruno becoming majority leader in 1994. Speaking after being sworn in he listed his top priorities as property tax relief and job creation.

Dean Skelos has been in the Senate since 1985 and is steeped in the ways of power Albany, including the authority of strong majority leaders to determine what bills even get to the floor for debate. Born and raised in Rockville Centre, a member of South Side High School's class of 1966, he received a B.A. in History from Maryland's Washington College in 1970. He earned a law degree in 1975 from the Fordham University School of Law and is counsel to the Mineola-based law firm Ruskin Moscou Evans & Faltischek.

Serving in the state Assembly for two years, Skelos was elected to the state Senate in 1984. He is the author of Megan's law, which created the New York state Sex Offender Registry, and serves as the senate representative on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's four-member Capital Program Review Board, and co-chairman of the legislative task force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment.

Building upon his record of combating fraud and abuse in government, Senator Skelos negotiated an agreement ensuring that school district lawyers who are ineligible for public pensions cannot access the state’s public retirement system, making school districts’ administrative costs more transparent and establishing new safeguards to end school superintendent ‘double-dipping’ practices that have cost property taxpayers millions of dollars.

Senator Skelos also wrote the law eliminating the unfair New York City “Commuter Tax” and, during his tenure as the Senate Aging Committee Chairman, the law creating the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage (“EPIC”) program.

As the Chairman of the Senate’s NextGen Task Force, Skelos wrote a comprehensive plan that resulted in the enactment of various tax credits and other incentives designed to promote the creation of high-paying jobs in the fields of high-technology and biotechnology. Moreover, he developed the landmark HELP program and passed the Long Island Workforce Housing Act to make homeownership more affordable for Long Islanders, the New York State Center for Excellence and Innovation in Homeland Security and, in 2002, the $71.5 million Long Island Biotech Investment and Job Creation Program.

”I am truly honored by my election as leader of the Senate Republican Conference and as Majority Leader of the New York State Senate. It is a privilege to be chosen for this new challenge and opportunity to serve the people of this great State,” he said after the sworn-in-ceremony. “All of us owe a tremendous debt of gratitude for the leadership and service of Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno. He led our conference and the State Senate for 14 years and distinguished himself as one of the greatest leaders in the history of the State.”

He also expressed his commitment “to working with Governor David Paterson and we welcome his efforts to work with us on these and other priority issues. We also look forward to working in a bipartisan spirit with Assembly Speaker Silver and leaders Malcolm Smith and Jim Tedisco, to achieve our common goals.”

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