What Would Power Sharing Look Like? (Updatedx2)
Sen. Jeff Klein has now made clear that he and his fellow IDCers would like to form a so-called coalition government with the Senate Republicans, which, in his description, entails a true bipartisan power-sharing situation when it comes to running the chamber.
There was a notable lack of details in this morning’s Times story, in which Klein said “some type” of coalition government would take the politics out of policy debates and end the “constant hyperpartisan bickering” in the chamber.
“Mr. Klein outlined a system in which the leaders of the Republican caucus and the Independent Democratic Conference would work together to run the Senate, with joint control over committee agendas, the bills that are taken up on the floor and state budget negotiations,” Tom Kaplan wrote.
That sounds a lot like the bipartisan operating agreement forged between Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and then-Senate President Pedro Espada Jr. toward the end of the infamous Senate coup of 2009.
The agreement, which appears below, courtesy of a source with a long memory, was signed by Skelos and Espada and sent to all 62 members of the Senate on July 7. That was one day before then-Gov. David Paterson appointed Richard Ravitch to replace him as lieutenant governor, ending the succession problem and, in so doing, breaking the deadlock that had frozen the Senate after Hiram Monserrate returned to the Democratic fold without Espada and tied the chamber at 31-31.
On July 9, Espada returned to the Democratic conference and received the title of majority leader, while Malcolm Smith remained temporary president. Of course, we all knew it was John Sampson, who was elevated to the post of conference leader during the coup, was actually in charge.
One thing we don’t yet know – and a glaring ommission from Klein’s discussion with the Times – is what leadership post, if any, he or any other IDC member might be getting in return for their coordination with the Republicans.
A source familiar with the negotiations told me this afternoon that the deal is not yet set in stone because both Klein and Skelos would like to be temporary president, which is the position that wields the most power.
The Senate cannot organize or spend any money unless there is a temporary president in place. Whoever holds that title is also third in line to run the state should the governor and lieutnant governor be unable to do so.
The majority leader post is less significant, though it is referenced in law and carries with it some appointments to various boards and commissions.
The other really significant position in the upper house is Senate Finance Committee chair, which is currently occupied by Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse-area Republican.
All confirmations must go through the Finance Committee, and the chair has an intimate involvement in the budget process. He or she also is able to hire and fire budget staff and make some appointments.
Interestingly, we haven’t heard a PUBLIC word from Skelos since Klein’s big reveal, although Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous went on Talk 1300 this morning with the NY Post’s Fred Dicker and called Klein’s coalition government statement “very powerful,” without either confirming or denying that talks to form a coalition are actually underway.
UPDATE2: I missed the kicker in Kaplan’s story, which is a quote from Skelos saying the following after callign Klein a “serious and effective legislator”…
“Together, we’ve ended the dysfunction in the Senate. I expect to continue working with him to deliver the bipartisan results New Yorkers need and deserve.”
UPDATE2: Also, in an interview with Gannett’s Albany Bureau, Klein pushed back against the idea that he wants to empower the Republicans through his coalition government proposal, which he explained thusly:
“(W)e can now have a Democratic leader, an Independence Democratic Conference leader and a Republican leader – and that’s how you have a coalition government, and that’s where no one party has an advantage. It really forces Democrat and Republicans to really be policy driven.”
Could we be looking at a budget season with four men in a room instead of the traditional three? It’s going to be awfully crowded in there.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Liz Benjamin on November 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm, and is filed under Dean Skelos, Pedro Espada, Republicans, State Senate, Uncategorized. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|