Thursday, March 31, 2011

No Allies in Their Fight

Protesters at the capitol on Wednesday night had two specific enemies in their sights, the Republicans and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, both of which they believed had teamed up to pass a budget that unfairly distributed pain throughout the state. Lost in this tidal wave of anger and emotion were the Democrats in the Legislature, who were essentially going along with the proposed cuts that were voted on last night.
Colin Donnaruma, a 30-year-old graduate student at UAlbany, acknowledged the failures of the Democrats, specifically the ones in the state senate. He said they viewed the governor “as unstoppable” and they were “prepared to roll over to his every whim.”
When it was all said and done late Wednesday, only 13 voices in the Senate rose up in opposition to the most controversial part of the budget, which laid out language for eduucation, labor and family assistance. Senate Democrats put up a stink on the floor, but their protests were more about procedural manners, with Minority Leader John Sampson lauding the on-time budget after it was passed.
For the most part, though, people didn't feel betrayed by the Senate Democrats (and maybe it was because Senators Kevin Parker and Bill Perkins helped them get pizza into the capitol). Instead, their ire turned to Cuomo, with a 51-year-old first time voter articulating his disappointment before a large crowd on the second floor of the capitol. He said that he had made a mistake with his vote.
Donnaruma argued that Cuomo had run as a progressive, but had adopted the budget of a fiscal conservative. “A lot of Democrats are wondering, ‘Why did we vote for him?’ ” he said. “We thought he was a progressive Democrat, but he is aligning himself with Republicans to pass tax cuts for millionaires.”

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