Senate Republicans Look Into Their Souls, Overcome Past ‘Fear’ of Reform

ALBANY—State Senate Republicans this morning held a press conference to present themselves as governmental reformers.

Yes, there's the blatant hypocrisy factor in all of this: Republicans held the majority for forty years and implemented none of the things–empowering committee chairs, distributing resources more equitably, and imposing a six-year term limit for the majority leader–they are now talking about.

Why not?

"Fear," State Senator John Bonacic explained. If a senator tried to challenge the power of the majority leader, or "dilute the power of the king" in any way, there could be consequences: "maybe they would lose a chairmanship. Maybe they would have a closet for an office."

Minority Leader Dean Skelos was asked if the way Republicans treated Democrats when they were in the minority was wrong.

"It was," he admitted. "And that's why I'm looking to change it."

Skelos said his come-to-Jesus moment occurred during the state budget process this year.

Skelos also took a shot at the Democrats in the majority, noting that they campaigned promising to reform the way business is done in the chamber, but despite convening a committee to study the issue, have not taken major actions.

"We didn't run on a campaign that, ‘we're going to change everything,'" Bonacic said. "When the reports were certified April 21st, Malcolm Smith promised we were going to do changes. We only have 11 days left. That hasn't happened."

Andrew Stengel, the Senate majority's point man on reform issues said: "Per the report of the temporary committee, some of the rules changes will be enacted before the end of session and the balance will be done at the opening of the 2010 session."

Skelos, Bonacic and many of the other Republican senators who attended the news conference this morning did pledge, when pressed, to enact their proposals if they re-take the majority.

Senate Republicans Look Into Their Souls, Overcome Past ‘Fear’ of Reform