A photo was tweeted out Friday by the new state Senate majority leader, Democrat Andrea Stewart-Cousins, with the message, "Glad to be spending time with Speaker Carl Heastie!"
The subtext seemed to suggest much more, including that the new Democratic-controlled state legislature will work together more closely than ever before, and that Gov. Andrew Cuomo no longer calls all the shots.
"The bills we are passing on Monday are all agreed to with the Assembly, so those will be going to the governor's desk in short order. You are going to see that for several weeks to come as well," Queens State Sen. Michael Gianaris said. "We have been working very closely with our colleagues in the Assembly."
With the Democrats set to begin passing their ambitious agenda Monday, the governor announced that his budget address laying out his priorities will take place earlier than planned.
Cuomo also started releasing details on certain pieces of legislation he will include as part of the budget, such as the Child Victims Act, which enables victims of sexual abuse to seek damages. Cuomo's version goes further than the legislature's version.
"I don't think I've ever passed a bill where all three versions were literally exactly the same. There is always compromise, there is always some differentiation," the governor told reporters Wednesday. "So more than anything, I want to get it done."
But under the new paradigm in Albany, the legislature's bills are identical, and they no longer need to wait for Cuomo to negotiate a compromise between Republicans and Democrats.
"Well, to the extent we don't have to wait until the last minute to jam everything into a what used to be called the 'Big Ugly,' this is good news," Gianaris said. "Let people see these things happening. There are going to be more hearings than there's ever been before. There is going to be more opportunity for the public to be heard."
Bills will likely be sent to Cuomo immediately to receive his signature. He will then have 10 days to approve or veto. That means major changes to state government could begin to take effect within just the next few weeks.
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