Progressives Look Toward November

Is it possible for New York state to be more progressive than it already is?

We’re about to find out.

An uneasy coalition that allowed Republicans to share power in the state Senate is ending. Last week, members of the Independent Democratic Conference announced they were ending their agreement with Senate Republicans because some progressive legislation the IDC members wanted to pass couldn’t make it to the Senate floor for a vote.

Democrats, in order to pass legislation in the Senate, had to at least moderate their plans to assuage Republicans or bring Republicans into the mix, blunting some of the more costly ideas to come from the Democrats. Pending the result of several November elections, it is a distinct possibility Democrats will control the governor’s office and both houses of the state Legislature. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s coming in January if that happens.

“As Democrats, the IDC remains committed to the fight for an equal education for all New York students – which the Dream Act would provide, protecting a woman’s right to choose, increasing workers’ wages and enacting meaningful campaign finance reform. I agree with Governor Cuomo that these are progressive priorities we must pass,” Joel Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Caucus, said in a news release. “As Democrats, the IDC remains committed to the fight for an equal education for all New York students which the Dream Act would provide, protecting a woman’s right to choose, increasing workers’ wages, and enacting meaningful campaign finance reform.”

Don’t forget legislation to make hydraulic fracturing illegal in New York state that passed the Assembly before the end of this legislative session but which stood no chance in the state Senate. The moratorium stands a good chance of becoming law in the next legislative session, ending a possible economic development boon for Western New York and a stable supply of natural gas – the favored method of electric generation in New York state – to Western New Yorkers.

Make no mistake. Republicans share just as much blame for New York’s high taxes, unfriendliness to business and general wackiness as Democrats. Gov. George Pataki had eight years as governor and largely failed to make a dent in New York’s high-tax, high-spending culture. A Republican-controlled state Senate had little luck over two decades implementing any semblance of cost control on the state budget. That only came with Gov. Andrew Cuomo a Democrat who sees that New York’s love of taxes needs to change.

November’s election could make the Independent Democratic Caucus’ announcement a moot point if Republicans take firm control of the state Senate or, perhaps, the governor’s mansion. If the status quo, holds, however, New York looks to be in for a bumpy ride. The DREAM Act, a higher minimum wage, taxpayer-funded minimum wage and a hydraulic fracturing moratorium are likely only the tip of the progressive’s iceberg.

That is truly scary.