Thursday, December 04, 2008

Big Changes in the State Senate?

As the NY Daily News is reporting, there may be some big changes in the works up in Albany: "Meanwhile, the three dissidents - Sens. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) and Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) and Senator-elect Pedro Espada (D-Bronx) - met yesterday with upstate billionaire Thomas Golisano. Golisano, who put $5million toward reform candidates this year, hopes the three stay with the Democrats and likely Majority Leader Malcolm Smith. The so-called Gang of Three planned to give their demands to Smith last night. Sources said they want greater autonomy for Senate committees, a finance-committee chairmanship for Kruger, more resources for the minority party and more freedom for the minority party to bring bills to the floor."

The reform template is in play-and the ball is in Malcolm Smith's court-not to mention the inscrutable domain of Governor Paterson. In spite of the disbelief that reform could be generated from such an unlikely quarter, it now appears as if Kruger and the amigos are advancing some of the most ambitious proposals that have been seen in Albany for years-and they have the leverage to achieve it.

In any case, the conversation is ongoing, and the goal appears to be to create a governing structure adequate enough to tackle the state's huge fiscal mess-with a level of hoped for bipartisanship that will enable real problem solving to get done. The devil, as always, is in the details-and in the ability of all those involved to negotiate a good deal.