Written by Senator Craig Johnson Friday, 17 July 2009 00:00
The stalemate in the New York State Senate has ended. With the gridlock over, more than 130 important bills that affected localities across this state and allowed them to hold the line on property taxes have been passed.
This included legislation that was critical to Nassau’s fiscal health, and the extension of the Power for Jobs program, which is responsible for more than 240,000 jobs across New York State.
This 31-day ordeal has truly been a dark period in New York State’s history. I am embarrassed by the thirst for power and the naked leader-driven partisanship that had gripped the chamber.
In the end, the will of the residents of the State of New York, who last November elected a Democratic Majority to the State Senate, has been preserved.
However, I truly believe things in the Senate will never be the same, and that is a good thing. I have served as your State Senator now for 2 ½ years, and I have seen the effects that decades of dysfunction have had on this chamber.
Throughout this ordeal, there has been a lot of talk about 32-30 splits and 31-31 deadlocks. However, the real important numbers are 62 and 19 million. We have 62 senators that collectively represent more than 19 million people in the State of New York.
Going forward, it is our goal to change the way that the Senate operates in order to foster a climate that is inclusive and respectful to each and every member of this body.
This didn’t happen under the 40 years of Republican rule, nor did it happen as quickly as it could have during the first six months of the Democratic majority.
It is essential that changes to encourage fairness and parity in the Senate take place now. Prior to the resolution of this stalemate, myself and several other like-minded legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, were discussing a governing agreement that would allow the chamber to operate without a clear majority. The proposal included the empowerment of rank-and-file legislators, making it easier for individuals — regardless of political affiliation — to be able to get legislation on the floor, and to ensure that parity is achieved in the distribution of Senate resources. Press reports have indicated that these discussions played a significant role in breaking the logjam and reuniting the elected Democrats in the chamber.
It is my hope that much of what was discussed will serve as a basis for the new rules that govern Senate operations.
The issues that affect Long Island are not Democratic issues, nor are they Republican issues. Throughout my tenure in the State Senate, I have prided myself on being able to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. On issues such as requiring insurance companies to cover costs associated with Autism, and authorizing red light cameras, I was proud to have been able to partner with members of the Long Island Senate Republican Delegation. I am hopeful that there will be more such collaborations in the future.
It was very important to me that, throughout this ordeal, my office continued to provide services to the residents of the 7th Senate District. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my staff for not skipping a beat and for working so hard in the face of such adversity. I am lucky to have them and I believe we all benefit from their dedication.