Wednesday, December 5, 2012


GOP cuts unprecedented deal with five renegade Democrats to control state Senate

The stunning agreement formally douses Democratic hopes of recapturing control of the chamber even though the party will have as many 33 of the Senate’s 63 seats next year.











Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, R-Rockville Centre, stands in his office at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Wednesday, March 7, 2012. Business tax cuts, tax incentives for hiring the unemployed, a moratorium on new taxes and a state spending cap will be part of the budget proposal of the New York Senate's Republican majority. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Mike Groll/AP

The chamber will be run by a unique bipartisan power sharing arrangement between GOP leader Dean Skelos (above) and a two-year-old coalition led by Bronx Democrat Jeffery Klein called the Independent Democratic Conference.

ALBANY — The capital was reeling Tuesday with the news that the GOP has cut an unprecedented deal with five renegade Democrats to control the state Senate.
The stunning agreement formally douses Democratic hopes of recapturing control of the chamber even though the party will have as many 33 of the Senate’s 63 seats next year.
RELATED: CRITICS SAY KLEIN JUST CRAVES POWER
Instead, the chamber will be run by a unique bipartisan power sharing arrangement between GOP leader Dean Skelos and a two-year-old coalition led by Bronx Democrat Jeffery Klein called the Independent Democratic Conference.
The two leaders will share “joint and equal authority” over state budget talks, committee appointments and which bills will come up for a vote.
They’ll also take turns every two weeks presiding over the chamber as Senate president and filling other constitutional roles such as stepping in to run the state if the governor and lieutenant governor are incapacitated.
“This new bipartisan governing coalition guarantees a fiscally responsible, fully functional Senate that will continue to produce positive results for all New Yorkers,” Skelos and Klein said in joint statement.
As part of the deal, the GOP has agreed to allow “progressive” bills sought by Gov. Cuomo and the Dems to come to the floor.
Among them are campaign finance reform, the decriminalization of small amounts of pot, and a hike to the minimum wage.
The specific details of the bills have yet to be negotiated, with a number of Dems saying they expect the legislation will be watered down to make it more amendable to a GOP that has traditionally blocked them.
“This is not a coalition but a coup against all New Yorkers who voted for Democratic control of the Senate and a progressive state government,” said an angry Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy.
Many say the deal has the potential to either plunge the Senate into chaos or transform the chamber into a cutting-edge post-partisan legislative body.
While insiders say Cuomo preferred a coalition government to Democratic control of the Senate, his spokesman said the governor will “withhold judgment until he sees how the Senate functions and acts on critical issues facing the state.”
“The most important thing is to have a functional Senate that passes the governor’s progressive agenda to advance the state of New York,” Josh Vlasto said.
A spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg, Mark Botnick, was more upbeat, branding the the deal “an example of bipartisan cooperation at its best.”
klovett@nydailynews.com
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