New York

New York Future Caucus’ Bold Next Chapter

Event date: March 05, 2024

From Spectrum News:

The next generation of New York lawmakers have unified behind a novel way for the Legislature’s youngest members to work together and rise above pervasive political polarization.

A bipartisan group of elected state legislators age 45 and younger, or Generation Z and millennial lawmakers from both houses, have formed the “Future Caucus” – a program created late last year modeled after similar efforts in other U.S. states to bridge deep partisan division. 

The 41 members of the Future Caucus met last month, marking the group’s first meeting during regularly scheduled legislative session.

“We’re going to be focusing on ideas that can work across the aisle to just make lives better for all New Yorkers,” Future Caucus co-chair Assemblyman Alex Bores said.

Bores, a Manhattan Democrat, said the caucus is focused on issues important to the next generations, and getting input from all sides. New York’s Legislature is dominated by Democratic control.

The caucus has yet to set their legislative priorities for the year, but plans to meet and finalize their agenda after the state budget process concludes.

Those will be finalized depending on the timeliness of the budget, which is due April 1.

“Not every caucus member is going to agree on every piece of legislation, just like with any of the existing caucuses, but there’s something that binds us all together,” Bores said.

New York’s lack of child care providers, and the inadequacy of affordable care, has connecrted the caucus, as several members have young families.

Assembly Republicans on Monday introduced a series of bills to improve child poverty and access to quality child care programs by boosting direct payments to families and businesses.

The proposals include increasing the state child tax credit and other related subsidies, to boost aid for universal Pre-K and support for providers to expand child care service hours and programs.

“Now any parent knows: Child care is not a want, child care is not a luxury,” Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay said in the Capitol on Monday. “Child care is essential.”

Future Caucus co-chairs on Monday said members have unified on concerns about the future of the state and keeping people in New York, including available jobs, benefits and the overall economy – taking shape amid early budget talks.

Future Caucus Republican co-chair Assemblyman Ed Ra said the group has helped lawmakers on opposing sides of the political aisle get to know each other.

“One of the things I have found is that there’s a lot of things that we think people are for or against because it’s a ‘D’ or ‘R’ thing, but it’s not,” Ra said.

The caucus will vote to legislative package to address their priorities they plan to push this spring before session ends in June.

Both parties are struggling most with hot-button issues like immigration, criminal justice and others – issues the caucus will conference and take positions on over time.

“It’s all about breaking through those ideas of, ‘What are you about? What’s your district like?'” Ra said of his colleagues. “You know, what are the issues that you’re dealing with in your district? I think that’s a huge part of breaking through the partisan divide.”

But caucus members hope their work will inspire future conversations about how to forge a path forward – together.

“Maybe we’ll find a path forward and take a stance as a caucus, maybe we won’t and maybe finding a third way forward,” Bores said. 

Rep. Sara Jacobs


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