Stewart-Cousins: IDC Does Not Accomplish More by Working with Republicans [Updated]

Stewart-Cousins: IDC Does Not Accomplish More by Working with Republicans [Updated]

Stewart-Cousins: IDC Does Not Accomplish More by Working with Republicans [Updated]
September 26, 2014

Senate Democratic Conference leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins fired back Thursday morning at the notion that more will get done with the Independent Democratic Conference than without it.

Stewart-Cousins’ remarks came during WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show and were prefaced by a question previously posed to state Sen. Jeff Klein, the leader of the IDC, about why the conference would not just align with the Democrats to give them the clear majority. Klein responded during an earlier appearance on the show by listing various measures the Senate was not able to pass while Democrats were in power before pointing to marriage equality, minimum wage and gun control as areas where laws were passed through “bi-partisan cooperation”since the coalition’s formation.

Stewart-Cousins said that she didn’t buy it.

“No,” she said simply when asked if the IDC has been able to accomplish more by working with the Republicans.

“Ethics reform?” she asked. “Not done. Campaign finance reform? Not done.”

Then she countered Klein on the minimum wage, saying that despite calls from the governor for $8.75 and from the Assembly, the IDC and Senate Democrats for $9, the mark is currently $8 and won’t reach $9 until 2016.

“The compromise that happened has put New York’s hard-working low-wage workers, frankly, at a lower wage than what is going to happen in New Jersey, what’s happening in California, what’s happening everywhere around us,” Stewart-Cousins said.

The IDC responded with a statement later in the day that included its plans to give mothers paid maternity leave, make daycare affordable and give working families and seniors the tax breaks “they deserve.”

“The only question is, will Senator Stewart-Cousins finally rally behind the IDC’s plan for the middle class?” IDC spokeswoman Candice Giove said in a statement.

Lehrer also asked Stewart-Cousins if the structure of the agreement between the independent Democrats and the Republicans would prevent a tax increase for a universal pre-K plan from coming to a vote or being passed if the Republicans disagree, even if all Democrats voted yes.

“Exactly,” she said. “I couldn’t have said it better. That’s the reality. That is the structure of their agreement and that is why 2014 will be an interesting year for us.”

Giove said there isn’t a bigger champion in Albany of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s universal pre-k plan than Klein and that “it's sad to see Senator Stewart-Cousins try to undermine that support and weaken its chances of passing before the session even begins.”

Stewart-Cousins later played it safe about the likelihood of Democrats considering candidates to run against members of the IDC in primaries in order to swing the majority back in their favor. She said that the focus right now is to get the people’s work done, something she said that she is willing to do by working with any senators, including Klein.

“I hope since they have all these great plans, that they get them to the floor, because last year none of them came to the floor,” she said. “It’s one thing to say, ‘I’m interested in seeing this and that happen.’ But if you know that it’s basically a proclamation without any real opportunity to vote on these things to make them happen, it is just not going to work.”

This post has been updated with a statement from the Independent Democratic Conference.

Matthew Hamilton