A Change to the New York State Legislature

By: Jack Madden

In November 2020, New York State Democrats gained 3 seats in the Senate and kept all their seats in the Assembly. That crucial three seat gain allowed the NY State Democratic party complete control over Albany with a supermajority in both chambers of the legislature, and with a Democratic Governor in Cuomo. What’s even more important is that Democrats now have complete control over drawing the election maps. This allows them, if they so choose, to draw the maps in their favor, so they can win both more frequently and by bigger margins. While unlikely, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said that they will draw compact maps that keep a Democratic Supermajority. Maps are currently drawn in Republicans’ favor, especially in the State Senate; however, Democrats can draw compact maps where they easily get 75-80% of the seats in the legislature. In the short-term, the more progressive legislature now has the power to override Cuomo’s vetoes. Before 2018, Republicans controlled the State Senate with a power sharing agreement with conservative Democrats. This group, called the IDC, allowed for major progressive laws to be trimmed down. Even though most of the legislation happens through the complex and often very corrupt budgeting process in New York, very liberal and progressive Democrats in the NY legislature will have far greater power than they do now. This is already being tested by the Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who propose new taxes on multi-millionaires and the more than 100 billionaires in New York. Due to the legislature’s progressives having an increase in power, Cuomo may now have to abide by these proposals to tax the rich (considering the state is in need of a solution to the more than $10 billion budget hole due to COVID). Only time will tell, but what is certain is that New York politics have just tipped on its axis for the first time in decades.  

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