Senator Velmanette Montgomery has served for 28 years in the New York State Senate and says the recent actions by the Republicans to retain power “is emblematic of how the Republicans have operated for all of the years” she has been in the legislature.
“Anytime we have gotten close to or become the majority they figure out a way to stay in power. This is not the first time this process has taken place. Some way or other they figured out a way to make sure the Democrats never become or remain in the majority.
Essentially, this is a Republican coalition with the Conservative wing of the Democrats. It is unimaginable that we would have (at this point in time) a situation where our colleagues are throwing their weight in with the Republicans.
I understand why they would be so violently insisting that they remain in the majority because the majority controls the resources, the budget process and the agenda. When the Democrats were in the majority, for the first time since elected I had a major capital budget for institutions in my district. All of the Democrats had that ability. I was able to help fund the completion of the Bed-Stuy Family Health Center , provide funding to assist with the PRATT Center work they were doing with church properties, able to fund the rehabilitation of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Dance and Arts Studio.
With the Democrats in control, we were able to pass legislation to reform Rockefeller drug laws, as well as programs for juvenile justice. We passed legislation to provide assistance to homeowners facing foreclosure and provided new protection to small businesses and women-owned businesses, and consumers. We passed legislation to improve health care and environmental protection to seniors and were able to reform voting access for victims of domestic violence who need special ballots to keep their addresses out of public view. With the Prison Redistricting Act, we were able to have prisoners counted in their home districts. In short, in a whole number of areas we were able to pass significant bills that had been languishing in the Senate for many years.
They characterized it as dysfunctional only because of who was in charge.
We had such a razor-thin majority, every bill had to be voted on by all the members. The Republicans never voted to pass legislation if we did not have every single Democratic member present and voting.
With this new coalition, if they don’t get one Democratic vote will the Republicans join with them and pass the bills?
The Democratic conference is the most diverse in the state and this action by these Independent Democrats is depriving us of the opportunity to do for a constituency that is far more diverse than the ones the Republicans represent.
We have the majority but we’re not in the majority. We will continue to work on the issues that are central to our constituencies, such as what happens in the Sandy recovery. This is a dark time in the state and we’re waiting to see if the governor is going to be helpful in the policies that come from the executive”.
(Senator Montgomery Represents the 18th Senate District)