New York Has Coalition Senate

December 5, 2012 at 7:41 am Leave a comment

In New York State’s biggest political news in years, a group of five Democrats have come to a power-sharing agreement with Senate Republicans that will allow the Republicans to maintain a say in Albany’s governing structure when the Senate reconvenes in January.

The Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) is a group of four – now five – Democrats that broke away from the Senate Democratic Caucus two years ago after it lost its majority to Senate Republicans just in time for redistricting.  They are the new powerbrokers in town and have decided to throw their support behind Republican leadership in the Senate on a rotating basis.  Under the plan, every two weeks the Senate Republicans and the IDC will rotate control of the Senate agenda.  That’s right, New York State is actually going to become the model of coalition government, at least in the Senate, with Republicans and a group of Democrats passing power back and forth.

In addition, if all goes according to plan, the leader of the IDC, Jeff Klein, will have equal say in all major decisions including the budget and what bills reach the floor.  I haven’t seen a good explanation of how this is going to work on the Committee level since Senate rules dictate that committee membership reflects a rough proportionality of each party’s membership in the chamber.  Former Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, who by the way has shown himself to be a strong credit union supporter, also announced that he would join the IDC.  Some quick thoughts:

  • I believe that for a group like ours any plan that increases the levers of power is a good plan and this certainly increases the number of people who can potentially move legislation.
  • The biggest winner is not only Jeff Klein, but Governor Cuomo, who now has a majority he can work with.  Given his lack of enthusiasm for a Senate Democratic takeover, he has to be breathing easier this morning.
  • The headlines this morning saying that the Republicans have retained control only get the story half right.  This is more than simply a group of Democrats throwing their support to a Republican Conference.  We’ve had that recently, and the Senate broke down in chaos.  This is a group of Democrats publicly committing themselves to a role in the governing process and a group of Republicans who can only maintain power if the IDC is successful.  In other words, even if you want to be totally cynical, there’s a bunch of people with an interest in making this work, at least in the short term.
  • I doubt Malcolm Smith will be the last Senate Democrat to announce he is joining the IDC.  The governing plan is credible and you can either stick with the Senate Democrats or be one of a handful of powerbrokers in the State Senate.
  • Finally, kudos to the former Senate Democratic aide and reader of this blog who predicted a week before the election that the IDC would end up in control of the chamber.  Considering that I predicted that the Senate Republicans would actually gain seats, I bow to his prognostication prowess.

Entry filed under: New York State, Political. Tags: , , .

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Authored By:

Henry Meier, Esq., General Counsel, New York Credit Union Association.

The views Henry expresses are Henry’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Association.

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