NY Senate GOP Backs Deal With Breakaway Democrats

ALBANY (AP) -

The unusual power-sharing arrangement in the New York state Senate between minority Republicans and a splinter faction of Democrats will continue despite the GOP’s gain of an outright majority in this month’s elections, the chamber’s top Republican said Monday.

Following a closed-door meeting with fellow Republican lawmakers, Senate Leader Dean Skelos also announced he would support legislative pay raises for lawmakers and state commissioners if the question came up in a lame-duck session this year.

The Senate had been led by a coalition of Republicans and the breakaway Independent Democrats, but Republicans won the majority outright in the Nov. 4 elections and will hold 32 seats in the 63-member chamber come January. The gains prompted speculation that Senate Republicans would brush off the five-member Independent Democratic Conference.

Skelos said he and Sen. Jeff Klein, who leads the IDC, will work out the details of the arrangement. Republican senators unanimously re-elected Skelos to his leadership position on Monday.

“It’s good to have a clear Republican majority, but I think we need to continue to work together,” Sen. James Seward, an Otsego County Republican, said of the coalition.