Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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State Senate Mulls Over Power Sharing Proposals

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Nearly a month after Republicans’ June 8 coup, and as the State Senate continues to gavel in and out of special sessions, Senate leaders are going over potential power sharing agreements.

Senate Democrats and Governor David Paterson reportedly said that they are willing to share top leadership positions, resources and staff, as well as rotate the Senate's top leaders.

Republican leader Dean Skelos and Democratic Senator Pedro Espada Jr. told the Associated Press that they want a power sharing deal to be reached by Thursday, but Democrats reportedly said there is no need for deadlines.

The senators passed no legislation during a brief special session Tuesday afternoon, and Democratic Bronx Senator Ruben Diaz Sr. released a statement expressing his frustration.

The State Senate has been deadlocked since the power grab by Republicans and two rogue Democrats last month.

Democratic leader John Sampson stressed that a long-term leadership agreement can negotiated at the same time that bills are passed. He charged that Republicans are holding legislation hostage in exchange for titles, power, pork and patronage.

Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Darrel Aubertine is taking the Assembly and its legislative clerks to court to force them to accept bills passed by a Democrat-only Senate on June 30.

Democrats claimed to have a quorum that day when a Republican Senator cut through the chamber on his way to get a drink.

Paterson has already said he would not sign the disputed bills.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy also filed a lawsuit requesting the State Supreme Court decide which New York State senator was the last legally-elected leader of the senate.

So far, the courts have been reluctant to rule on the matter.

On Monday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered a hiring freeze due to the Senate’s inaction. He says the freeze will last indefinitely.

Among the positions that will not be filled: 250 NYPD recruits, 150 firefighters, 151 traffic agents, and 90 emergency medical technicians.

The mayor says part of the problem is that Albany lawmakers do not understand the significance of deadlines.

"I thought they would solve their problems two, three weeks ago," said Bloomberg. "I don't think anybody expected this to go on; yet, it does. Does it mean it's going to go on forever? Common sense says that they will have to at some point come up with a resolution. This is the fourth-largest state in the country and it's fundamentally not functioning."

Earlier this year, the City Council and the mayor reached a budget deal that included a sales tax increase. In order for the sales tax to take effect, both the State Senate and State Assembly must vote to approve it.

The Assembly approved the tax but it has not yet passed in the Senate, becoming one of the many time-sensitive bills that have become a casualty of the power grab by Republicans and two rogue Democratic senators on June 8.

Last week, the Board of Education once again took over the city's education system after the Senate failed to act on a measure to renew mayoral control of the schools.

Bloomberg says the city may lose up to $60 million a month if the sales tax increase does not go through.

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