By Tom Precious
ALBANY – Senate co-leader Jeff Klein this session has been walking a fine line in trying to keep the coalition-style of governing working in the 63-member chamber.
In this interview conducted this afternoon in his 9th floor office overlooking the Empire State Plaza, the Bronx Democrat talks about the way he and Senate GOP leader Dean Skelos are trying to keep the coalition experiment working.
Klein also talks about why he is confident a minimum wage provision will be in the state budget deal next week, why he does not think more than a couple of changes are needed to the new gun control law and why Democrats failed to move key issues when they were in control of the Senate for two years. "We could never ever find a way to strike a balance," Klein said.
Asked if there was a chance the breakaway group of five Democrats could re-join the main Democratic Party conference in the Senate or if the coalition idea is here to stay, Klein said, "In one generation we consider things revolutionary and another generation we consider them par for the course and the way things are done. I think we're on to something here.'' As for having members from the two parties running the Senate, Klein said, "We're going to prove that it's very effective and I think we're going to show people this is really the way to govern.''
The Senate co-leader also discusses how often he talks with Senate Democratic conference leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and he dismisses the "rumors" that he and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver long ago ended their once-close friendship. "I’ve always had the utmost respect for Shelly Silver," Klein said.