Senator Jeff Klein has decided not to continue in his post as a deputy leader in the Senate and has instead formed a new independent caucus with three of his fellow senators. Klein announced on Wednesday, January 5 that he will become part of a third senate conference, separate from the Republican majority and Democratic minority, called the Independent Democratic Conference.
Joining him are senators Diane Savino, David Valesky, and David Carlucci who will caucus together. This is the first time in the history of the state Senate that there have been more than two groupings of senators.
They pledged to find common-sense solutions to problems facing the state, break partisan gridlock and work to restore the public’s trust in elected officials. Their platform calls for measures that include removing obstacles to the business environment, as well as business creation, a property tax cap of 2% annually and removing government waste by investigating state agencies individually.
“This is a new beginning,” Klein said. “The squandered opportunities, ethical lapses, and mismanagement of the last two years have left the residents of this state distrustful and disappointed in the state Senate as an institution and their government as a whole. As members of the Independent Democratic Conference, we will work to bring integrity back to this house and once again make government a tool to improve people’s lives.”
The move comes after Klein made the decision to step down from his post as deputy minority leader. He said that he had issues in regards to the lack of legislative process during the last two years, when the Democrats were in the majority.
“It is very difficult for me for another day, another week, another year to look my continuants in the eye and explain why I am part of the Democratic leadership,” Klein said. “I think unfortunately that the leadership failed to do what they needed to do when the Democrats were in the majority for two years. Here we are two years later and we didn’t do independent redistricting, we didn’t do real ethics reform and we didn’t come up with a plan on property tax relief that was negotiated with the Assembly, even though I passed a bill in the Senate.”
Klein’s decision to be an equal member of the four-person body in the Senate, working as an independent Democrat, drew applause from many of his constituents. Many praised Klein for being so resourceful, hoping that the caucus would provide swing votes in a chamber almost equally divided between Republicans and Democrats.
“I feel Senator Klein is one of the most talented and resourceful legislators we have up in Albany,” said Sal Conforto, founder of the American Civics League. “Apparently with the status quo in Albany and the minority leader Sampson exhibiting no love for the Bronx or for our district, he is making a choice the would give him power. I respect Senator Klein’s move because it gives him the opportunity to have more influence.”