By Robert Press
At 1 PM Monday several current State Senators, members of the State Assembly, and Democratic Party candidates in November held a press conference to discuss what they are trying to do in the state legislature. It is called the Budget Equity Act, which must be done by August 3, 2020 or they would have to wait three years as some of those currently in office said. The last time this was tried was ten years ago when it was vetoed by the governor then.
The Budget Equity Act would take the power away from the Governor, Senate Majority Leader, and Speaker of the Assembly, and give it to the members of both houses on the state budget, or a restart of the budget process. To the average voter they thought the local assembly and state senate members they voted for had that power already.
Comments by some of those who spoke (in no particular order) were, That the budget process is dominated by the governor, that the state legislature is not a rubber stamp for the governor, the governor acts like a bully in a playground, and say no to the budget. State Senator Gustavo Rivera said that the Governor cut Medicaid, and did not tax the millionaires, while State Senator Alessandra Biaggi said " I don't know how we gave the governor the power", in a reference to the power to issue executive orders under the pandemic crisis that does not require legislative approval (which she wants removed). The best comments had to come from Assemblyman Charles Barrons who began by calling the governor a racist and many other things, but ended by saying that socialism is needed in the state.
To me this looked like a remake of 2008 when Democrats finally won control by winning thirty-two of the then sixty-two seats, and wanted change in the upper house. In 2010 Republicans won back control of the state senate winning thirty-two of the sixty-two seats. In January of 2011 four Democrats led by then Senator Jeff Klein formed the Independent Democratic Conference who sided with the then Republican majority. After the 2012 election thirty-three Democrats were elected, but the four Democrats in the IDC stayed with the Republicans thus keeping control of the senate in Republican hands. The senate stayed in Republican hands until the now eight member IDC was dissolved in April of 2018. Then IDC head Jeff Klein and five other members of the IDC lost in their Democratic primaries. Democrats won forty seats to twenty-three for the Republicans, and the senate should remain in Democratic control after the November 2020 elections. The only problem to Senate Democrats now is the Justice Democrats who elected Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to congress in 2018, and should have Jamaal Bowman elected to congress in 2020. Both Senators Alessandria Biaggi and Gustavo Rivera were supported by AOC, and Senator Biaggi supported candidate Bowman. Could there be a Justice Democrat takeover threat in the state senate next?