Friday evening, my brother, after a two hour WFP leadership conference call, told me "Cuomo caved" the previous night and agreed to support for real a whole platform of major progressive legislation. NYC's progressive Mayor Bill DiBlasio played a crucial intermediary role in making the deal.
The package includes a serious increase in the minimum wage, strong public financing of campaigns statewide based on the successful NYC model, the DREAM Act to educate undocumented students, a women's equality package, marijuana decriminalization and changes in state education funding to provide more money to districts that actually need it.
The progressive bills were blocked by the GOP minority in the NY State Senate in coalition with a faction of renegade Democrats, the so-called Independent Democratic Conference (IDC). Cuomo is widely believed to have tacitly supported the IDC defection to enable continuing Republican control of the Senate after 33 of 63 Senators were elected as Democrats.
I responded to my brother that the deal was acceptable only if WFP has high confidence that Cuomo would not renege and find some excuse not to enact what he agreed to.
The deal was reportedly completed late Saturday evening by the WFP State Committee in Albany (I am in NYC for a major reunion.)
Jump for the WFP News release
WORKING FAMILIES PARTY, GOVERNOR CUOMO, MAYOR DE BLASIO, ATTORNEY GENERAL SCHNEIDERMAN, COMPTROLLER DINAPOLI, AND NEW YORK'S MAJOR UNIONS ANNOUNCE HISTORIC COALITION TO SECURE DEMOCRAT-WORKING FAMILIES MAJORITY IN STATE SENATE, DELIVER KEY PROGRESSIVE VICTORIESThe WFP, which calls itself the minor party with major possibilities, has been able to use its leverage in NY's fusion voting system to win real gains for the 99%.
Contact: Khan Shoieb, New York Communications Director
NEW YORK, NY - On Saturday, May 31st, at the Working Families Party Convention, the Working Families Party, Governor Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Attorney General Schneiderman, Comptroller DiNapoli, and 1199 SEIU, 32BJ SEIU, CWA District One, UFT, HTC, UAW Region 9A, UFCW Local 1500, RWDSU, MTDC, and the Teamsters announced a unified, unprecedented coalition to secure a Democrat-Working Families majority in the New York State Senate and deliver progressive victories on a number of key priorities in the early months of the next legislative session. [emphasis added] The legislative commitments include a robust, statewide system of public financing of elections, funding 200 community schools, a commitment to fix the school funding formula to invest more money in high-need schools, the DREAM Act, the Women's Equality Act, decriminalization of marijuana, and raising the minimum wage to $10.10 while indexing it to inflation and allowing localities to raise it up to 30% higher than the state minimum wage.
Mayor Bill de Blasio:
I was there at the beginning of the Working Families Party. And I’m proud to be with you today. From the beginning, the Working Families Party has been the party that has stood up an economy that works for everyone and a democracy in which every voice was heard. Tonight, that has happened again, because of the WFP, an unprecedented coalition is now committed to making a progressive vision for New York a reality.
Bill Lipton, New York State Director, Working Families Party:
The WFP stuck to its values. Tonight was about fighting to give New Yorkers a better job, a stronger school, and a government that actually hears their voice. Tomorrow, New Yorkers will be closer than ever before to seeing a real wage increase. They will be closer to having justice for immigrants, women, and young people of color. They will be closer to having a government that works for them, not just the wealthy and well-connected. And that's where a real commitment to progressive principles can get you.
UPDATE - NY Times report:
...Mr. Cuomo reached out to the party on Saturday night with a video and a subsequent phone call, promising to pursue a raft of progressive goals, most critically changing the political dynamic in the State Senate...The governor, who previously refused to support a Democratic takeover of the Senate leadership, promised to undo that arrangement, saying the group’s members should come back to the mainstream party or “face primaries this year from a unified Democratic coalition.”
“To make this agenda a reality, we must change the Senate leadership,” the governor said.
In his remarks, Mr. Cuomo also suggested that he would work on a variety of other policy goals, including campaign finance reform; a higher minimum wage; and passage of the Dream Act, which would allow college students who are in the country illegally and meet certain criteria to access state financial aid.
The case for Mr. Cuomo was also made by Mr. de Blasio, a darling of the left, who came to the party’s convention just outside Albany to speak. He told a rapturous crowd that he — and presumably, the governor — would deliver on reforms that have long eluded progressives in the state. “Tonight that is changing,” the mayor said, adding that he believed that giving Mr. Cuomo the party’s line was a “transcendent moment,” and that he trusted the governor. “I believe he is fully committed to taking back the Senate,” Mr. de Blasio said….