Updated 12/04/2012 07:16 PM
GOP, Independent Democratic Conference Join Forces To Control State Senate
Republicans will continue to control the state Senate now that the Independent Democratic Conference said it will form a coalition with the GOP. NY1's Nick Reisman filed the following report.
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Republicans and the breakaway faction of Democrats have agreed to a power sharing arrangement in the state Senate that has political observers questioning whether the experiment will be a grand success or a dysfunctional failure.
The plan announced by Republican leader Dean Skelos of Long Island and Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeff Klein of the Bronx allows the GOP to retain some power over committee assignments, staff allocations and the budget.
The proposal would also rotate the job of Senate president between Klein and Skelos every two weeks.
"I'm sure there will be some balance of power due to the fortnightly changing of leaders in the house," said Bill Mahoney from the New York Public Interest Research Group. "But will that extend to every member, every senator? We won't know for sure until we see what the rules look like and what the budget looks like."
Democrats criticized the move, calling it yet another rehash of the Senate coup of 2009 that ground action in the chamber to a halt for more than a month.
But those who know Klein say that isn't the intent.
"This is clearly not a coup," former Democratic state Sen. Craig Johnson said. "What it demonstrates is a commitment by both the Republicans in the Senate as well as the IDC and Jeff Klein to move New York state forward."
For the Senate Republicans, joining forces with the IDC allows them to keep some control the chamber.
"I'm willing to work with anybody as long as they're going to be fair," said Republican Sen. Joe Robach of Rochester. "I think that's critically important."
Klein said that he believes the coalition can pass legislation raising the minimum wage, reforming "stop and frisk" arrests and overhauling campaign finance laws -- all goals Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he wants to see accomplished.
When the idea of a coalition was first floated, Cuomo signaled he could work with a coalition.
"I think if anything we've proven we can work with just about anybody in any political configuration," Cuomo said.