Will new state Senate coalition be good for upstate NY?

Dec 12, 2012

Some supporters of the new state Senate coalition between Republicans and the Independent Democrat Caucus say it will keep upstate New York concerns on the table. Some area politicians believe that wasn't the case when Democrats had control of the New York state Senate in 2009 and 2010.

Syracuse Republican Senator John Defrancisco says when Democrats ran the Senate, New York City was the big winner.

"When the Democrats controlled everything, the New York City Democrats, there were bailouts for the MTA, the Metropolitan Transportation Association, and no money for upstate roads and bridges -- and that was the tradeoff every year before that.  There was always promises but nothing happened.  It was so New York City Centric, it was wrong," Defrancisco said.

One of the members of the breakaway group is Syracuse-area Democrat Dave Valesky, who says that geographical balance was one reason the IDC decided to forge a power sharing plan with Republicans.

"This bipartisan coalition ensures that whether you live in central New York, or western New York, or Long Island or the North Country or New York City, there's representation from a broad geographic basis. And I'm not convinced we would have had that, had it been Democrat only," said Valesky.

New York City area Democrats have blasted the new coalition government, saying among other things, it isn't representative of the ethnic diversity of New York State.  But Valesky, who is one of the IDC's founding members, says it isn't some exclusive club.  He notes that the group has gone from four to five members recently, and says it will welcome anyone else.

"The only thing we ask for other senators who might be interested, the one thing you have to do is say you're interested in governing, in being serious about legislating, putting aside party partisan differences and really putting policy over partisanship. And any senator who wants to do that, we are more than happy to talk," said Valesky.

The breakaway lawmakers say they don't believe aligning with Democrats would lead to good government.

The new coalition ultimately lets the GOP senators share power with the  IDC lawmakers, even though Republicans are expected to be in the minority numbers-wise in the new term beginning in January.