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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shelly Silver gets it right--as usual

(Liz Benjamin reports)
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is joining his fellow Democrats in the Senate in calling for Republicans to accept a power-sharing agreement in the upper house.

"Senate Republicans must end their obstruction and accept the power sharing agreement put forward by Senate Democrats," Silver wrote in a just-released statement.

With an evenly divided Senate, the Senate Democrats’ power sharing proposal is the only way the Senate will be able to reconvene and act on critical legislation including Mayoral control of New York City schools, an extension of the Power for Jobs program, stronger rent laws, green jobs, micro-stamping and gun permit renewal legislation, rights for farm workers and domestic workers, marriage equality and local budget authorizations that are essential to keeping cities, towns and villages solvent throughout the state.
These sorts of power sharing agreements are not new or novel and have been used successfully in the U.S. Senate and in state legislatures throughout the country to allow evenly divided government to continue to function.

The ongoing refusal of Senate Republicans to accept the Democrats’ proposal has paralyzed New YorkState and must end now.

Silver siding with Democrats might seem like a dog-bites-man story, but he has generally avoided getting involved in internal Senate affairs. Back when Republicans ruled the chamber, he came under fire for failing to use his fund-raising clout on behalf of minority Democrats -- with his supporters explaining that he needed to maintain good relations with the Senate GOP in order to govern effectively.

This is Silver's first major statement on the political warfare that has paralyzed Albany since the day of the coup, when he declared his support for Democrats maintaining control of the Senate without mentioning the name of the official Senate Democratic leader, Malcolm Smith.