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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Alfonse D'Amato
A new coalition in Albany

For years, the political atmosphere surrounding our State Senate could only be described as puzzling. New Yorkers have seen coups, broken promises and plenty of corruption.

Last week, with his majority barely hanging on, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Republican from Rockville Centre, announced that he had formed a new coalition government, combining the Senate Republican Conference with the Independent Democratic Conference, led by Sen. Jeff Klein.

This maneuver gives the coalition 36 votes, thus allowing Skelos to remain in his position as majority leader.

In response, on Dec. 5, Governor Cuomo penned an op-ed for the Albany Times Union. The piece, titled “Cuomo’s Terms,” was the governor’s attempt to explain the political maneuvering. It also outlined policy positions that he believes the new majority should take.

Cuomo reminded us of a recent two-year period when the Democrats controlled the Senate. He wrote, “The Democratic Conference was in power for two years and squandered the opportunity, failing to pass any meaningful reform legislation despite repeated promises. The Democratic Conference’s dysfunction was legendary.”

Let’s be clear. If the Republican Party had not formed the coalition with the Independent Democratic Conference, the Democratic Party possibly would have taken back control of the Senate, as it already has 31 of the 63 seats and could possibly win in two more districts when the votes are finished being counted.

Instead, Skelos remains the majority leader, which is incredibly important for our state. He has worked across party lines with the governor to ensure that the bills being passed in Albany are for the common good of the people, and not for a particular party or interest. With Skelos and Cuomo workings together, there has been success.

The governor wrote that he has formulated a “litmus test” of policy issues that the new coalition must pass in order to garner his full support. The list includes campaign finance reform, increasing the minimum wage, reforming the infamous stop-and-frisk policy, tax cuts on the middle class, education reform and introducing casinos as economic development generators.

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