Central New York State Senator Dave Valesky says he’s ready to resume working with the Independent Democratic Conference as state lawmakers prepare to re-convene Wednesday in Albany…
"It's important to continue something that has been working very well," Valesky said. "The bipartisan coalition that the Independent Democratic Conference has participated in over 6 years now in one form or another has delivered results."
The conference has grown from four members in 2011 to seven members after the 2016 election, and will continue to partner with the senate’s republican conference. Valesky says the reasons for keeping the IDC intact today are the same as they were when they broke away in 2011.
"The state senate was, I believe, one of the most hyper-partisan legislative bodies anywhere that could be found," Valesky said. "There was very, very little done with the spirit of bi-partisan cooperation.”
Valesky says it comes down to focusing on what works for the people.
"There's a choice between active participation and setting a legislative agenda with the majority conference in the form of a majority coalition, which is what we have chosen," Valesky said. "The other hand would be to choose to serve in the minority. And choosing to serve in the minority limits your ability to produce results for the very constituents who elected you in the first place.”
Despite the IDC's partnership with the republican conference, Valesky says members tend to vote differently depending on the issue. That means they can wield significant influence when it comes to drawing up, then approving or defeating legislation. He says that played out last year in the passage of the state’s family leave law as part of the state budget. Valesky says now they’re working on their priorities for this year’s budget, including job retention, job creation, school funding, and college affordability to name a few…
"All of that needs to be put into context with what we anticipate will be more difficult economic times," Valesky said. "The comptroller has indicated that tax collections have been coming in more slowly than anticipated. So we do anticipate at least a slight budget deficit this year.”
Combine that with the backdrop of possible changes under a new president and republican controlled congress, and Valesky says that means more uncertainty surrounding the budget than they’ve seen in several years.