The Independent Democratic Conference announced Tuesday it formed a bipartisan partnership with State Senate Republicans to create a majority in the Senate. The news came from Senator Dean Skelos, leader of the Senate Republican Conference, and Senator Jeffrey Klein, leader of the Democratic Conference. As part of the agreement, the two senators will have equal authority over the Senate’s proceedings and they will alternate holding the title of temporary president.
Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Ossining) is a member along with Klein (D-The Bronx), Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn), and Senator David Valesky (D-Oneida). Malcolm Smith (D-Queens) also joined the conference on Tuesday.
“In order to bring meaningful results to New York families and businesses, we need to break down party barriers and work across the aisle,” said Carlucci. “This bipartisan agreement will help us do exactly that. By taking the politics out of policymaking, I know that we’ll achieve big things for all New Yorkers.”
According to a statement released by the new majority, the formation of the partnership will
“continue the tremendous progress that has been achieved over the past two years in New York State. This new bipartisan governing coalition guarantees a fiscally responsible, fully functional Senate that will continue to produce positive results for all New Yorkers.”
Last week a group of varied organizations called upon Senator Carlucci to work with the Democratic Majority. Working Families Party Executive Director Dan Cantor reacted to the bipartisan announcement, saying that it jeopardizes the progressive agenda.
“On Election Day, New Yorkers made their voices heard for a Democratic-Working Families majority because of the issues that hang in the balance in Albany. Public financing of elections. Women's health. Reforming stop and frisk. Raising the minimum wage and indexing it to inflation. A real DREAM Act.
These are not trivial issues. Senator Klein has voiced support for them in the past, but his Republican partners stand against us on each one. The burden therefore rests on the shoulders of Senator Klein and the IDC to prove that they can deliver. If they can, then this coalition may yet be validated. But if they cannot, then we will hold them to account.”
Two years ago, the Independent Democrats and Senate Republicans began working together and the new agreement is described as building on previous successes. The coalition declared it is committed to working with Governor Cuomo on progressive policy issues in the next legislative session.
The two leaders said coalition has proven it can work constructively and effectively.
Skelos said, “We’ve brought spending under control, ended Albany dysfunction, and consistently delivered the bipartisan results New Yorkers need and deserve -- even on many of the most difficult issues.”
Klein noted, “Legislating is a deliberative, cooperative process—not a spectator sport. Having dedicated the past two years to a serious, policy-driven agenda, this agreement delivers on the IDC’s pledge to become a permanent third conference within the State Senate and to have a major voice in all policy decisions moving forward.
Under the agreement, the Democratic Conference will be formally recognized as a third, permanent Senate conference. Senators Klein and Skelos will assume the roles of Conference Leader for their respective conferences and administer joint and equal authority over the daily senate agenda, which lays out which bills will be voted on each day; the state budget; appointments to state and local boards, and leadership and committee assignments for their respective conferences.
The partnership will be memorialized in the Senate’s rules for the upcoming legislative session. The two conferences, which will form the governing coalition, will be recognized in the 2013-2014 Senate Rules as the Senate Majority Coalition.
The Democratic Conference members stated they are dedicated to combining social progress and fiscal responsibility support the governor's agenda. They specifically noted their committment to raising the minimum wage, campaign finance reform, stop and frisk reform, protecting a woman’s reproductive rights, a property tax cap and on-time budgets.
"We have stressed a separate conference because we had all been members of the Democratic conference and experienced firsthand its dysfunction and chaos that completely frustrated passage of any meaningful legislation and made the great State of New York a laughing stock nationwide. We believe that by being a separate conference and by working with both the Democratic and Republican conferences we can bring order, function and balance to the State Senate and pass our key progressive reforms. We are more than willing to vote with the Democratic conference to assure social progress and the Republican conference to assure fiscal prudence."