There are a lot of new changes will be happening next year in the New York Legislature. Democrats will have control of the Senate, new powers will emerge but what will this mean for upstate New York?
All the Democrats needed to do was flip one seat in the Senate, but they blew past that number and gained eight seats. Now with Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins at the helm, what will this mean for upstate communities?
“Very excited for my conference, for Andrea Stewart Cousins, the best leader I’ve had. And ready to embark on very important legislation,” Senator Neil Breslin (D-Albany) said.
Many fear that with Democrats now controlling both houses, expensive progressive agenda items will be quickly voted through without much fiscal responsibility. Most specifically, the passage of single-payer health care.
“They say down the road, single payer will be cheaper in the long run. I’ve never seen a government program that wound up being cheaper in the long run. So this will be a surprise for me if that ever happens,” Senator Rich Funke (R-Rochester) said.
Republicans especially worry about the costs associated with single payer health care, but many Democrats ran on this platform and are now pointing to this as one of their reasons for success.
Governor Andrew Cuomo cautioned Democrats this week about moving forward too quickly. Voting reform, bail reform, and more gun regulations will most likely be some of the first bills to go through, but after that, the legislature will most likely be taking a look at healthcare and even possibly recreational marijuana.
But these are definitely items that many downstate lawmakers ran on. Marc Molinaro during his concession speech reminded the parties to not forget upstate.
“I challenge Governor Cuomo to work with all those New Yorkers that feel like they are on the outside looking in,” Molinaro said.
In upstate counties, Republicans were able to keep a few of their seats, but still, lack a strong presence in the Senate.
However, there is talk that Senator Fred Akshar from Binghamton, could be one of the top possible contenders for Senate Minority Leader.
This also brings into question if Governor Cuomo will keep with the tradition of having just the two majority leaders in a room with him to negotiate budget items. Some people have been speculating that the Governor might open up discussions to include minority leaders in these talks as well.
What we do know is that the tone of how the legislature is going to operate will be settled within just the first few days of the session.