NY State Senate: Reparations for Democrats

It is a little after 3pm. I keep checking in at Capitol Confidential Blog (Times Union) and Daily Politics Blog (Daily News) to see what is happening in Albany. I think some Democrats were kind of locking down the chamber. But, the Republicans did get in and were trying to hold an improvised session. Governor Paterson is not pleased. And, the Governor has called a session for 3pm.

Meanwhile, the so-called “Senate Reform Coalition” aka the Republican Coup, have released their terms about sharing power in the State Senate. It’s a great plan for going forward. But, it entirely left out reparations for the years when the Republican Majority did not apply those same principles to the Democratic Minority.

For 43 years, the Republicans had the majority. And, in that time, they made sure that the majority party had lots of power to control bills, extra staff, and extra financial allocations. But, when the Democrats gained the majority (because NY voters elected more Democrats around the state), the Republicans turn the rules upside down, turn the chambers upside down, and propose a new way to serve things out equally to the majority and minority. Interesting…

Well, on some of the power-sharing aspects and presiding privileges, it might be difficult to “fix” the injustices of the past. But, money is money. And, some of what these “reformers” want is the justice of having equal financial allotments (ie: for postage, staff, etc.)  between the majority and minority party.  Well, postage is very easy to calculate. So, if they want equality and justice, first they have to go back and add up how much less the Democrats had for the last 43 years, and pay that back. It’s simple. It’s fair. It’s reparations for Democrats. And, if this team holds bipartisan ideals of equality and justice, of course they will want to settle up old debts and injustices.

It seems like an easy calculation to figure out the postage discrepancy. An accountant could just go over the numbers and do a simple audit. I don’t know exactly who should make the payments from the Republican side to the Democratic side. I guess it would not be so great for the state of New York to have to pay it back. But, perhaps some of the Republican leaders could chip in from their campaign funds? Or, the Republican electeds could use their own “slush fund” kind of alotments to pay it back?

If the money thing could be sorted out, maybe someone could also think about a way to redress the unequal power issues of the past. For instance, maybe someone should list all the bills previously sponsored by Democrats in the NY State Senate, and list all the bills killed in committee. The new “Reform Coalition” could help make sure that half of those bills get brought to the floor and voted on in the next session.

It is an odd situation to have a “majority party” in a body that gets more power and handouts than a “minority party.” And, it will be wonderful if the present situation in the NY State Senate can address that situation and, indeed, create more cooperation and equality. Though, before we take the plunge, let’s make sure we make up for the years of inequality that Democratic State Senators–and the principles and constituents and bills that they represent–have endured.

You can check out a document showing the way that State Senate Republicans now believe is a fair way to run a chamber is over at the Capitol Confidential: here.

The Senate Reform Coalition has proposed a bipartisan operating agreement that would enable the session to move forward.  The plan includes the following…

Resources of the Senate

All members receive equal access to the resources of the Senate for
printing, mailing, personal staffs and legislative initiatives…

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