Republicans and breakaway Democrats announce joint custody of the State Senate
Five Democratic state senators announced this afternoon that they will align with Republicans in a power-sharing deal.
The deal ensures Republicans will retain a measure of their power in the Senate, even after they lost their majority in the November elections.
The joint announcement from the Independent Democratic Conference and the Republican leadership bills the agreement as an unprecedented "bi-partisan" coalition, that will be "fiscally responsible" and also advance a "progressive agenda."
The Republican leader of the Senate, Dean Skelos of Long Island, will have "joint and equal authority" with IDC leader Jeff Klein over the legislative agenda, chairman and committee assignments, and the allocation of resources. The two leaders will rotate the title of Temporary President every two weeks.
It's not clear how that will work. Klein has already said he wants to push a "progressive Democratic agenda," including a raise in the minimum wage and campaign finance reform. Those are cornerstones of the Democratic conference's agenda, but have been blocked in the past by the Senate Republicans.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has made it clear he has no interest in seeing his fellow Democrats take control of the State Senate, refusing to endorse Democrats in races that might have secured his party a definitive majority and reminding the public that the last time Democrats were in charge, there was "chaos" and gridlock in government without mentioning that it was partly due to a Republican-orchestrated coup involving a handful of dissident Democrats who are no longer in office.