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The future of Ways and Means

Everyone is wondering who will be the next leader of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

The vacancy is the result of current Chairman Jeff Espich, R-Uniondale, retiring his legislative post directing the chambers' financial policy.

A number of names from the House Republican caucus have been floated and House Speaker Brian Bosma won't make any official announcement until after the election.

But the real question might be -- will there be a House Ways and Means Committee?

Back in 2004 after longtime Senate Finance Chairman Larry Borst was defeated, then-Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton broke the committee into two.

That is why there is both a Senate Appropriations Committee and Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee today.

Espich said splitting Ways and Means up "wouldn't be the worst thing," noting it's a big job for a newcomer.

"I gave the speaker my thoughts. It is his choice. He has not told me and I don't even know if he knows yet," he said. "It's really not my business."

Breaking the committee into two would allow Bosma to add another member to the leadership ranks, which includes increased pay, responsibility and political stature.

To contact Niki Kelly email her at nkelly@jg.net or follow her on Twitter @nkellyatJG.