Klein: Coalition Not About Empowering GOP
The incoming majority coalition will be able to pass a host of progressive goals even if they’re measures Republicans have opposed in the past, Sen. Jeff Klein told me in a phone interview this afternoon.
Klein is the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, the breakaway bloc of five Democrats who agreed to a coalition-style government with Senate Republicans, plus Democrat Simcha Felder of Brooklyn.
In the interview, Klein said a minimum wage increase, reforming stop and frisk arrests and an overhaul the state’s campaign-finance laws would be on the agenda of the coalition Senate.
“This is the model that works,” Klein said. “When the Democrats were in the majority, they could not get progressive legislation passed with 32 votes.”
He called raising the minimum wage in particular “a moral necessity.”
True enough, Republicans presided over the chamber when same-sex marriage passed in June 2011. But Senate Republicans were punished for the vote by their base, with liklely two of the GOP lawmakers who backed the law going down in electoral defeat.
Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long made clear to Liz earlier when the coalition idea was first floated that he wouldn’t be happy with such a move by the Senate Republicans.
But Klein is optimistic nevertheless, suggesting that what voters want to see is continued governing in the chamber.
“I’m not going to give the Republicans political advice, but I think effective governing works out well in the ballot box,” he said.
Klein also stressed that the move is not about elevating the Senate Republicans, though both he and Skelos would have a seat at the negotiating table when it came time to put together the state budget with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Klein said he had not spoken to Cuomo about the coalition government.
“We have to agree on the budget, have to agree on the active list, we have to agree on appointments,” Klein said. “It’s all of us working together. It’s not aobut us empowering the Republicans.”
And the notion that is just another Senate coup? Well, this coalition is different that past coup events, Klein says.
“That’s not really true because other coup attempts were not made by serious people,” he said. “I think the IDC for the past two years and the work we do with Republicans was a prelude to coalition government. I thnk moving forward this is an equal responsibility.”
Still, hanging over the coalition is whether something like this would actually work. Klein didn’t want to directly address the question of what would happen if the coalition fell apart.
Instead, Klein said the majority coalition could be a model for other states.
“There was a time when New York was leader on all types of various legislation and laws,” he said. “I think this type of coalition government can make New York a leader once again.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on December 4, 2012 at 6:12 pm, and is filed under IDC. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|