(UPDATED) Touting the historic partnership
A coalition government has been formed to lead the state Senate in the next legislative session.
The agreement creates a shifting head of the Senate, which will alternate every two weeks between Long Island Republican Dean Skelos and Bronx Democrat Jeff Klein.
UPDATE, 4:30 p.m.: State Sen. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, described the agreement as a "formalization" of the informal partnership that has existed during the past two years. He noted that members of the IDC had been given committee chairmanships and were kept in the loop during the past legislative session.
"This does not surprise me," Farley said of the agreement.
Going forward, the chamber will alternate the temporary president position every two weeks between Skelos and Klein. Farley said this process would be smooth and didn't anticipate any issues.
As for the policy ramifications of the partnership, he predicted their goals would still be driven by a majority of the partnership, which consists of mostly of Republican members. While the chamber won't be a haven for liberal policies, Farley said, "We'll be very understanding of some of their issues."
The agreement could face a legal challenge from the Senate Democrats, but Farley, a former law professor, said it would likely hold up. He doubted that the judicial branch would even want to get involved with the administrative processes of the state Senate.
"I think it is a very promising day," he added.
In a statement, Sen. James Seward, R-Milford, said the new coalition is best served to help his constituents, which includes voters in Schoharie County.
“My top three priorities as we prepare to embark on the 2013 legislative session are cutting taxes, reducing state spending, and creating an economic environment favorable to job growth," Seward said. "I am confident that this bipartisan governing coalition will lead to meaningful results in those key areas.”
A spokesman for the campaign of Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk said she will caucus with the Senate Democrats once the 46th Senate District is decided.
Original: In a statement on the agreement, Skelos said, “The Senate Republican Conference has worked closely with the Independent Democratic Conference and Governor Cuomo to bring historic progress to New York. 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. Senator Klein has proven to be a thoughtful and effective leader, and I look forward to partnering with him to move this state forward.”
In the same statement, Klein added, “Over the past two years, members of the IDC and Senate Republicans have shown that the best way to overcome New York’s biggest challenges is by working in a constructive, bipartisan way. 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. Having worked together over the past two years, I know that Senator Skelos is not only an effective leader, but is as committed as I am to delivering major bipartisan results for all New Yorkers.”
Also chiming in was the latest member of the Independent Democratic Conference, Queens Democrat Malcolm Smith.
“I’m thrilled that today I’m not only joining the IDC, but I’m becoming an immediate part of this historic and bipartisan governing coalition," Smith said in a statement. "Our state’s biggest issues are too important to address on a narrowly focused, partisan basis. Over the past two years, Senator Klein and his colleagues in the IDC have shown that they’re driven by policy, not politics. They have delivered on an impressive bipartisan agenda, have stayed true to their Democratic principles, and have laid the groundwork for an historic bipartisan model of governing."
"I would like to thank Senator Klein and all of my new IDC colleagues for welcoming me into the conference and for committing to move New York forward in an exciting, bi-partisan, and common-sense way. We have made tremendous strides over the past two years, but as we all recognize, there’s plenty of work still to be done. I’m very confident that the new governing model we’re announcing today is the best way to get the results that New York’s families and businesses need," he concluded.
Below are additional statements from Senate Republicans and three more IDC members.
Senator Tom Libous (R-C-I, Binghamton) said, “Today, we are taking steps to formalize our existing partnership through a new Senate Majority Coalition, which we believe is the best, most effective way to ensure that true bipartisanship and meaningful progress will continue in Albany. My constituents want Democrats and Republicans to work together to achieve real results that improve their lives, and that's what we are going to do in cooperation with the IDC.”
Senator Diane Savino (D-Staten Island/Brooklyn) said, “Two years ago, we realized that in order to serve our constituents effectively, we needed to take the politics out of policymaking. That’s what we’ve done since forming the IDC and that’s what we’ll continue to do as part of the new coalition government. Our constituents, particularly mine, cannot afford the type of political gamesmanship that has, in the past, overrun a healthy and functioning legislature. We’re here to accomplish the people’s business and that’s why we’ve formed this historic bipartisan coalition.”
Senator George D. Maziarz (R-Newfane) said, “Today is a great day for all New Yorkers as we move forward and announce the new Senate Majority Coalition. I can work with anyone to get things done for the people of my district and am excited to continue on the path to move New York forward -- and doing so in a bi-partisan fashion.”
Senator David Valesky (D-Oneida) “Today is a great day for government in New York State. By building a bipartisan coalition of Senators from across the state, we will remake the New York State Senate with a bold new model, where partnership is valued over partisanship, and a focus on important issues will be at the forefront. This coalition will enable stability, functionality and a wide-ranging legislative agenda that will benefit the people of New York. I look forward to working with my colleagues in a productive legislative session that will hopefully serve as an example for governance.”
Senator John A. DeFrancisco (R-C-I, Syracuse) said, “My constituents are looking for a bipartisan government to get things done. We’ve had great success working with the Independent Democrat Conference over the past two years to pass on-time budgets that reduced state spending, lowered taxes and helped create new private sector jobs. The new coalition will allow this team that has worked so well together to continue the progress we’ve made for the benefit of all the people of this state.”
Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland) said, “In order to bring meaningful results to New York families and businesses, we need to break down party barriers and work across the aisle. 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.”
Senator Martin Golden (R-C, Brooklyn) said, “The new bipartisan coalition will be an effective way to ensure that we continue to move New York forward. The people of this state want their representatives to work together to address the issues that impact their lives and, particularly important to the people of my district, work with other state and federal leaders to help us recover and rebuild from the devastation of hurricane Sandy.”
Senator John Bonacic (R,C,I-Mount Hope) said, “The recently formed coalition between the Senate Republican Conference and the Independent Democrat Conference is good news for the hardworking people of our great state. The coalition, which has been working together for the past two years with Governor Cuomo, will ensure a functional and productive Senate working in a bipartisan way to provide solutions to the great challenges we all face in the coming year.”