The incoming blizzard set to hit New York isn’t cooling off the situation in Albany’s statehouse, where no one is quite sure who’s leading the state Assembly after Speaker Sheldon Silver’s arrest last week on corruption charges.
Word spread Monday that rather than resign, Silver will split his powers among five senior Democrats as budget negotiations loom.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined his $142 billion budget proposal on Jan. 21. The Legislature has a March 31 deadline to consider or amend the budget.
During much of the time he’s is accused of accepting millions in kickbacks, Silver led the Assembly to pass progressive reforms on tenants rights, education, abortion and gay marriage.
Support for Silver is slipping. Hours after his arrest, top Assembly Democrats defended Silver. Only one Democrat — Brooklyn Assemblyman and longtime firebrand Charles Barron — voted against him.
By Monday, a growing chorus of Assembly members distanced themselves from Silver and his plan to distribute his power. Cuomo also questioned Silver’s plan ahead of the budget talks.
“All I know is what I’ve read, the quote-unquote committee, I don’t know what that means,” Cuomo told reporters at an unrelated press event. “I can’t negotiate with a committee.”
Cuomo refused to say whether Silver should remain speaker, while at least seven Assembly members told various outlets Silver should step down.
“I think he should step down and resign,” Barron told reporters Monday. “This is a distraction. And if any part of these charges are true, it is a shame. It is a disgrace.”