Syracuse-area state Senator Dave Valesky says the bipartisan coalition that governs the New York Senate was successful this year.
The Independent Democratic Conference is a group comprised of four Independent Democrats and 30 Republicans. Together they control the agenda and the committee process in that chamber of the state legislature. In the beginning, critics complained it would prevent certain progressive agendas from moving forward. Valesky says that never happened in the recently concluded legislative session, citing another on-time budget, enactment of a minimum wage increase and gun control legislation. But is it something the federal government could do?
"I would like to think so," Valesky said. "I think it's a little more difficult. Politics on the national level, and in society in general, over the last couple of decades have become so hyper-partisan for a number of reasons that I'd hate to think it's not possible, but I think it's more and more difficult."
He admits there were high profile issues that didn't pass, specifically campaign finance reform and the Women's Equality Act, bogged down by opposition to an abortion plank. But Valesky adds it wasn't the coalition's fault.
"The lack of legislative finality on those two issues in particular had far less to do with the majority coalition with the Republicans and Independent Democrats, than simply had more to do with the fact there were not 32 votes among Democrats alone to pass that," Valesky said.
Valesky says his voting record is in line with Democratic party ideals, and expects to have support from the party if he runs for re-election next year. This bipartisan governing coalition is a rarity in state government, and Valesky says they have the momentum to keep it successful.
"We now have results, not only can it work, it does work," Valesky said. "We ought to strive to get that message out maybe better than we have, and continue to push back to the hyper partisan elements in society that frankly don't want this to succeed. And there are frankly elements in the political process that want this to fail."