As They Head to Senate Minority, Democrats Talk Reform

pic home main As They Head to Senate Minority, Democrats Talk ReformSenate Democrats gathered on the steps of City Hall today, alongside former Mayor Ed Koch, to call on the state Senate to pass comprehensive reform legislation as its first order of business in January.

“Before the election, we urged all of the members of the Legislature to pledge and announce their support for three key good government issues,” said Mayor Koch. “More than half of each body elected are now pledged to these reforms.  In this coming year, these pledges have to be enacted into law.”

The reforms that legislators had to sign in order to be considered a “Hero of Reform,” included a pledge to back non-partisan redistricting, expanded ethics reform and GAAP budget balancing. At the news conference, the Democratic state Senators rolled-out a number of bills that they believe would meet those requirements.

All but a handful of Senators from either party signed onto Koch’s agenda, but no Republicans joined them at the news conference. And now, with Democrats appearing to have lost the majority, it is much less likely that their reforms will be taken up.

Indeed, Mark Hansen, a spokesman for the Senate Republicans, sent along a statement saying, in essence, that the G.O.P. now has other priorities, first among them the economy.

“Senate Democrats have controlled the agenda in the Senate for two years and did not take any action on reform legislation advocated by New York Uprising,” he said. “The entire Senate Republican conference was among the first legislators to sign on to the group’s reform pledge. Only much later, after being criticized as ‘enemies of reform’ did Senate Democrats decide to support it. These are important reforms that must be addressed, but our first priorities must be balancing the budget, reducing spending and taxes and creating jobs.”