In the New York State Senate, the Long Island Nine are now the Long Island Six, the stalwart Republican bloc of years past transformed into a growing Democratic caucus.
For years, Republicans protected Long Island and other suburbs from the worst tax-and-spend instincts of city Democrats who dominate the Assembly. But the GOP caucus also blocked needed legislation like voting reforms, the Dream Act, climate change legislation, and an increase in the minimum wage.
We were cautiously optimistic when Democrats took control of the Senate in 2018, fueled by victories in four Long Island races that added to the two seats they already had. We cautioned that they needed to be just as resolute as Republicans in representing suburban concerns while passing good progressive legislation. But the record has been mixed.
The Long Island Six — Todd Kaminsky, John Brooks, Kevin Thomas, Anna Kaplan, James Gaughran and Monica Martinez — helped pass a raft of bills that were long overdue, but showed little backbone against the successful campaign by city Democrats to scuttle the deal to bring Amazon to Long Island City. The project’s 25,000 good-paying jobs would have boosted the regional economy; some of those workers likely would have settled on Long Island. The Democrats also participated in a rushed process with no public hearings that led to a poorly drafted bail reform law in 2019, and some fixes made this year still might not be enough.
We hope they’ve learned their lesson. Most say they have. They need to form a stronger alliance with suburban colleagues in the Hudson Valley and upstate. This will be critical in the brutal funding fight ahead, and in the event Democrats pick up two more Senate seats. That would give them a supermajority in both chambers, enough to override vetoes by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who must balance the needs of the entire state. It also would mean Democratic control over redistricting. We want a fair process that produces sensible districts, not the partisanship shown by both parties in years past, but the temptations to skew lines will be strong with one-party dominance.
The Long Island Six is on notice. We expect more. Time to deliver.
— The editorial board