Last Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo and Senate Co-Leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx) released a joint statement indicating that the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) will “work together” with the mainline group of Democrats to form a new coalition in the State Senate after the November elections.  New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was reportedly involved in brokering the agreement.

The GOP has controlled the State Senate since the 1930’s, except for 2009-10, when the Democrats held 32 of the Senate’s 63 seats. Because the Senate GOP was unable to win an outright majority in the Senate in 2012, they needed to enter into a the group of Independent Democrats led by Senator Klein in order to maintain partial control of the Senate.

Under pressure from the far left of the Democratic Party and Working Families Party (WFP), in May Gov. Cuomo agreed to support Democratic efforts to retake the Senate.  IDC members are also facing possible primary challenges from candidates who oppose the IDC’s working relationship with the Senate Republicans.  In the wake of this announcement, it is possible that some of those primary challenges will be dropped.

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos said:

“This agreement is nothing more than a short-term political deal designed to make threatened primaries go away….It’s unfortunate that Mayor de Blasio, the radical Working Families Party and their co-conspirators in the Senate Democratic Conference are attempting to take control of the New York State Senate.”

The Senate Republicans could win an outright Senate majority in the 2014 elections, which would effectively render this agreement moot.  But if it comes to fruition, a Democratic re-unification in the Senate is likely to have significant policy and fiscal implications for the state.

This is a situation that Unshackle Upstate is very, very concerned about.  The Senate Democrats were not the friends of Upstate that we needed them to be in 2009-10.  They increased spending and taxes – including energy taxes, which we’re still working to provide relief from. It was not a confidence-inspiring performance.

We hope that the Democratic Senators who represent Upstate districts will learn from that experience, and recognize that the Upstate economy remains fragile, and that a great deal more work must be done if it is to recover and begin growing again.