The votes have been counted, and the result is clear: New York’s state senate has a large Democratic majority. While the Democrats have technically had a majority since 2009, there have long been two Democratic caucuses in the Senate: the main Democratic caucus and the Independent Democratic Caucus. In 2009, a group of Senate Democrats – the Independent Democratic Caucus, or IDC — broke away from the party and worked with Senate Republicans. In short, this meant that Republicans had a majority despite winning less than half the Senate seats. This meant state government was more divided than it seemed on paper and it was hard to enact any big changes.
So what did that mean?
Essentially, it meant no big legislation passed. The Assembly, with its Democratic majority, had a tough time agreeing with the Senate. After the 2018 elections, however, with the end of the IDC and a surge in Democratic votes, Democrats now control over 2/3 of the Senate. This means that now, for the first time in over a hundred years, the state senate will have a Democratic supermajority. Previously many decisions rested with Governor Cuomo because of the divided government, but now the state legislature will have more say in what happens. That means our state policies will have much more diverse input, which is always a good thing!
Where does that leave health care?
Great question! It means that big changes could be on the table. Before, if Governor Cuomo and the state legislature disagreed, the power generally rested with the Governor to make the final call. Now with the more diverse state legislature, more people have a larger say on popular health bills such as the New York Health Act or the Patient Medical Debt Protection Act. Big, sweeping structural change for everyday New Yorkers may finally arrive, thanks to a unified state government.