Beginning in January, two parties — not one — will lead the New York State Senate.
The Independent Democratic Conference and the Senate Republican Conference announced a "bipartisan partnership" Tuesday. The partnership will allow the IDC to be recognized as a permanent conference in the state Senate and calls for state Sen. Jeff Klein of the IDC and state Sen. Dean Skelos to serve as leaders of their respective conferences.
Klein and Skelos will "administer joint and equal authority" over the Senate's active list — the chamber's daily agenda — and the state budget, leadership and committee assignments, among other duties, according to a news release.
As for the title of temporary president of the state Senate, Klein and Skelos will take turns. The title will alternate between the two men every two weeks, the news release says.
"The Senate Republican Conference has worked closely with the (IDC) and Governor Cuomo to bring historic progress to New York," Skelos said in a statement Tuesday. "We've brought spending under control, ended Albany dysfunction, and consistently delivered the bipartisan results New Yorkers need and deserve — even on many of the most difficult issues.
"Senator Klein has proven to be a thoughtful and effective leader, and I look forward to partnering with him to move this state forward."
Klein returned the praise, calling Skelos — as Skelos called him — an "effective leader."
"Over the past two years, members of the IDC and Senate Republicans have shown that the best way to overcome New York's biggest challenges is by working in a constructive, bipartisan way," Klein said in a statement. "Legislating is a deliberative, cooperative process — not a spectator sport.
"Having dedicated the past two years to a serious, policy-driven agenda, this agreement delivers on the IDC's pledge to become a permanent third conference within the state Senate and to have a major voice in all policy decisions moving forward. Having worked together over the past two years, I know that Senator Skelos is not only an effective leader, but is as committed as I am to delivering major bipartisan results for all New Yorkers."
In announcing the coalition, the IDC also said they have welcomed a new member to their conference: state Sen. Malcolm Smith.
Smith, who served as majority leader of the state Senate for the first half of 2009 (before the infamous "coup" shook up the Senate), is the fifth member of the IDC. He joins Klein, David Carlucci, Diane Savino and David Valesky.
"I'm thrilled that today I'm not only joining the IDC, but I'm becoming an immediate part of this historic and bipartisan governing coalition," Smith said in a statement.
The entire press release announcing the bipartisan coalition is posted below.