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Cuomo Lays Out Conditions for Senate Support

7:45 PM, Dec 5, 2012   |    comments
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By Jon Campbell, Albany Bureau

ALBANY -- Increasing the minimum wage and reforming the state's campaign-finance laws are among the issues Gov. Andrew Cuomo says will be key to gaining his support for a new power-sharing agreement in the state Senate.

In an op-ed piece released Wednesday, the Democratic governor laid out a 10-point "litmus test" for the coalition between Senate Republicans and the five-member Independent Democratic Conference.

The two conferences announced a deal on Tuesday that calls for sharing equal authority of the chamber, preventing Senate Democrats from taking control.

"The state has more matters of more weight pending at this time than any other point in modern political history," Cuomo wrote. "We cannot afford to go back to a period of dysfunction."

The op-ed is set to run in Thursday's Times Union, according to the Albany-based newspaper.

Cuomo's "litmus test" includes support for some initiatives that have already been implemented -- such as the state's 2 percent property-tax cap -- and progressive issues that were held up in the Senate earlier this year. That includes an increase in the state's $7.25-an-hour minimum wage and reforming the state's system of funding and enforcing political campaigns.

The governor, who was criticized by some within his own party for not doing more to support Senate Democrats' efforts to retake the chamber, criticized the conference for the "dysfunction" that painted their time in the majority in 2009 and 2010.

"The Democratic Conference was in power for two years and squandered the opportunity, failing to pass any meaningful reform legislation despite repeated promises," Cuomo wrote.

Senate Democrats knocked the agreement Tuesday, dismissing it as a "coup against all New Yorkers who voted for Democratic control of the Senate and a progressive state government." Democratic candidates won as many as 33 seats in the 63-seat chamber during the 2012 election cycle.

"Sadly, the real victims of today's announcement are the people of our State, whose clearly expressed desire for progress on a host of issues will now be scuttled," Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the conference, said in a statement Tuesday.

The new agreement between Republicans and the breakaway Democrats calls for Sen. Jeff Klein, D-Bronx, and Sen. Dean Skelos, R-Nassau County, to lead their own factions. The two will share the title of temporary Senate president, switching off every two weeks.

"With the understanding that we've developed with the IDC, Jeff Klein and our conference, we're going to continue to move the state forward," Skelos said Wednesday on The Capitol Pressroom, a public-radio program. "We've shown over the past two years how we've been able to work with Governor Cuomo on a bipartisan basis."

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