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The IDC today announced that it has $2,835,000 on hand between it's four members and the IDC PAC.

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The Independent Democratic Conference had a rough end of session this year with progressive advocates blaming them for the failure of the 10-point women's agenda and campaign finance reform.

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Some advocates indicated that they are prepared to primary the group. IDC head Sen. Jeff Klein is known as a prolific fundraiser and has the biggest haul, his colleagues lag behind him but Klein and the PAC could bolster any member should a challenger arise.

The IDC actually tried to win seats for itself in the last election cycle by unseating longtime Albany Sen. Neil Breslin but the effort failed.

Here are the totals from the IDC's press release:

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On a day when a Siena poll showed Gov. Andrew Cuomo's job approval rating drop to 50 percent from previously stratospheric digits, the governor took to the air to admit that two of his major policy points will not come to a vote this session.

Cuomo blamed the Independent Democratic Conference for not bringing his women's agenda and campaign finance reform measures to the floor of the Senate for a vote.

"I think it’s a mistake for the IDC, who are theoretically Democrats,” Cuomo told Susan Arbetter during an interview on “The Capitol Pressroom.” “It’s not what they said initially, and I think that’s what’s giving people pause. Women’s Equality, especially, campaign finance, public finance, what they’re really saying is, these are going to be election issues next year. And they’re not going to take them up governmentally."

Earlier in his term, Cuomo enjoyed high approval numbers and was able to tap what seemed like unlimited reserves of political capital to get the Legislature to do what he wanted.

If Cuomo's poll numbers continue to drop — as they have since he forced a gun control package through the Legislature earlier this year — then legislators will have even less hesitation to challenge his agenda.

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A spokesman for state Sen. Malcolm Smith says the former majority leader will be "vindicated" of charges that he conspired to buy a spot on the Republican Party ballot for mayor in 2013.

Smith was arrested this morning by the FBI on charges that were brought in federal court. (Read the complaint below.)

Smith spokesman Todd Shapiro issued this statement: "The Senator has record of 13 years of dedication, hard work and integrity to the people he serves in Queens.He has provided to the heath, safety and well-being of the almost 20 million residents in New York. He will be vindicated when the all the facts in the case are revealed."

Smith led the Senate Democrats when they initially took control of the Senate in 2008. Smith had to cut deals with a number of senators to get that position. Last year, Smith joined the Independent Senate Democratic Conference, which lacked any minority members at the time. Smith was named chairman of the IDC in February of this year.

The IDC touted its seperation from the ethically challenged Demcoratic conference and the fact that they were ready to succeed where the Democrats had failed. But Smith and IDC Leader Sen. Jeff Klein were both part of the leadership structure of the Senate Democrats when they controlled the Senate. Smith's arrest could alter control of the Senate.

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The New York City Immigration Coalition may have its work cut out for itself this year: Its 10-point agenda is ambitious and will require action from Albany as well as cooperation from law enforcement.

The groups top policy priority is expanding access to college by passing New York State's version of the DREAM Act. The State's DREAM act which is backed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn would open up tuition assistance to students regardless of their immigration status.

Despite massive grassroots pressure, Gov. Andrew Cuomo did not make the DREAM legislation a part of his State of the State Speech in January. The Democratic-controlled Assembly has passed a version of the DREAM Act in the past and seems poised to do so again.

The Senate is a different story. The breakaway Independent Democratic Conference has indicated major support for the legislation but Senate Republicans have generally been opposed to the measure and have prevented floor votes. To add to the difficulty advocates face, it is unclear how many in the Democratic conference actually support the legislation.

Democratic Sen. Joe Addabbo said at a debate in October that he felt his constituents had a hard enough time finding money sending their children to college so he could not support the DREAM Act. His Republican opponent, Councilman Eric Ulrich, said at the time that he supported "some version" of the legislation.

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Sen. Gustavo Rivera says he hopes to see bipartisan movement on common sense gun legislation in the State Senate but as we reported today it won't likely be easy to move gun laws through the state Senate because of partisan issues.

"This is another reason why the Democrats should in the majority. If we were in the majority we would be able to introduce legislation that would make it harder for criminals to own guns. As it is we will have to pressure the Republican led majority."

The coalition made up of Senate Republicans and the 5-member Independent Democratic Conference currently controls the Senate and Republicans have recieved plenty of cash from the National Rifle Association and have traditionally opposed stronger gun legislation.

The IDC has backed some measures like microstamping but a spokesman would not go into details with the Gazette about legislation they might support in the future. Gun legislation could be a wedge issue for Republicans and the IDC.

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In an op-ed for the Times Union titled "Mainstream Democrats 'squandered the opportunity,'" Gov. Andrew Cuomo explained today that his political support is not based on party but on support of issues. The issues he sets out to earn his support are as follows:

1. The property tax cap that has finally imposed fiscal discipline
on local governments and provided relief to taxpayers
2. Campaign finance reform
3. Increasing the minimum wage
4. Reform of New York City’s “stop and frisk” policy
5. Environmental protection and initiatives that address our
changing climate
6. The education and Medicaid budget rate formulas that provided
fiscal predictability and sustainability
7. The tax cuts that brought taxes on the middle class tax to the
lowest rates in 58 years
8. Education reforms – like teacher evaluations – that bring more
accountability to our schools and continued improvement to our SUNY
system
9. Protecting a woman’s right to choose
10. Limited and highly regulated casinos introduced as economic
development generators

Before the power-sharing deal between the IDC and Republicans was announced, Democrats worried that Cuomo favored an alliance because it would allow him to pass his conservatve fiscal policy and his progressive social agenda.

Cuomo wrote in the op-ed that the Democratic Conference had more than one chance to prove their leadership ability:

The Democratic Conference was in power for two years and squandered the opportunity,failing to pass any meaningful reform legislation despite repeated promises. The Democratic Conference dysfunction was legendary and the current leadership has failed to come to a cooperative agreement with
Mr. Klein’s IDC faction.

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