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OK Albany, let the debate begin

January 11, 2019 10:14 pm

It’s likely that Albany will end up wallowing in a stalemate similar to the impasse in Washington later this year with the announcement by Assembly Republicans that they will attempt to stall or block the agenda of the Democrats who now control the state Legislature.

Led in part by Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, Assembly Republicans want to make the property tax cap permanent, end Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs that they say raise taxes, and deliver affordable, accessible health care for all regions of New York.

Assembly Democrats held their majority in the 2018 election winning 106 seats to Republicans’ 43 and the Independence Party’s one. All 150 seats were up for grabs in November.

Democrats took control of the state capital by winning 40 seats to Republicans’ 23 in the Senate. All 63 Senate seats were up for election. With Democrats controlling the Assembly, Senate and executive branch, there is little to get in the way of whatever agenda they put forth.

Therein lies the rub for Republicans. Democratic legislators have not officially released an agenda for this session. Lacking a Democratic platform, the GOP is playing a game of blind man’s bluff.

Cuomo’s agenda for the first 100 days of the session includes a $150 billion infrastructure plan, continuation of the state’s tax cuts for the middle class, fighting Washington on tax and health policies, passage of the DREAM Act to allow young people brought to the country illegally access to financial aid for college, and recodifying the Roe v. Wade decision under state health law.

Democrats in Albany have rallied together behind legislation that would move the state’s abortion rights from the penal code to the health code, something Democrats have sought for several years, but haven’t gotten past the historically Republican-led Senate.

Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-106, expressed hope that the legislation can pass this year with the shift in power when Cuomo listed it as one of his top priorities for the first 100 days of the session.

A lively debate is in store this year in Albany, and we say bring it on. Let the people of the Twin Counties see their lawmakers work together to make life in New York better or drag the state into political quicksand. “Buckle up,” Tague warned Wednesday. To that, we respond, We’ll be watching you.