2012 State Government Year In Review: Political Parties Spar Over Redistricting, State Senate Control
It was a busy election year in Albany, as both parties wrangled over new district lines created because of new census data, and Republicans in the Senate somehow managed to retain power despite losing their majority. Governor Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, got tough with unions as he pushed for legalized gambling. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo outlined a slightly less ambitious agenda for 2012 than he did in his freshman year as governor. He called for a new form of teacher evaluations, legalized gambling and a less generous pension system for new state workers. When his budget was approved in a marathon overnight session by the legislature in March, the governor was pleased.
"This budget is a very good and strong budget," Cuomo said. "As a matter of fact, it's more than just a budget. When I outlined the budget, I said this was more of a reform plan than a budget."
The teacher evaluations mostly got done, although not yet in New York City. Gambling took the first step toward legalization, and the new pension tier was approved. However, Cuomo made another bold proposal, for a $4 billion convention center in Queens, that did not pan out.
The same week the governor outlined his agenda in his State of the State address, Senate Republicans were working to add a 63rd Senate seat.
Republicans got their way, and new legislative redistricting lines were approved more or less how Republicans wanted in the Senate and how Democrats wanted in the Assembly.
Democrats in the lower house wound up winning the second-highest number of seats for any party in State Assembly history. Republicans, however, lost their majority, but formed a coalition government with five breakaway Democrats to stay in power.
"The way I envision it working is that you have a Independent Democratic Conference leader, a Democratic leader as well as a Republican leader, and then the coalition government can be formed," said State Senator Jeff Klein.
A coalition government is precisely what people will be watching when the Senate reconvenes next month. Already, there are tensions between Democrats and Republicans over new gun control measures favored by Cuomo in reaction to the Newtown, Connecticut shootings. Will the breakaway Democrats be able to work with the Republicans, and how will that affect Cuomo's agenda? It all remains to be seen in the new year.