New state Senate coalition defends itself

Dec 11, 2012

The newly-formed coalition of Republicans and Democrats, who will run the New York state Senate for the new term starting in January, made their first public appearance. They responded to criticism that the new majority coalition leaves out blacks and Hispanics. 

Senator Jeff Klein, the leader of a five-member break-away Democratic faction that has teamed up with the 30 Senate Republicans to form the coalition, says he knows many Democratic African American and Latino senators are upset.

“They raised concerns about diversity, which I’m more than happy to address,” Klein said.

Klein says issues he says will be pushed by the new coalition, including raising the minimum wage and reforming New York City’s Stop and Frisk policy, will help African Americans and Hispanics, as well as other New Yorkers.

The Senators spoke in Rockaway, Queens where the coalition announced a Senate task force to help expedite Superstorm Sandy recovery efforts.  

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, the other co-leader of the new coalition, says he believes the partnership will be a success. Skelos says he and Klein “have looked each other in the eye,” and said, “we’re going to make this work.”

The senators say working together on storm clean-up is one example of how the new coalition can function.

Republicans, led by Skelos, are currently in the majority in the state Senate. Klein, heads the Independent Democratic Coalition, which will share the new majority with Republicans.