“Democrats in the state Senate and advocacy groups on Tuesday pushed at a Capitol rally for legislation that would raise the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18 years old as lawmakers ease into March budget negotiations.
Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo maintained his support of raising the age as he seeks to have passed a proposal he tucked into his executive budget.
Raise the age has turned into a perennial issue at the state Capitol, where the Democrat-controlled Assembly has passed its version of legislation but the Republican-led Senate has remained cool to the proposal. That has left New York one of only two states (North Carolina being the other) that tries 16- and 17-year-olds as adults for nonviolent crimes.
Political divisions within the Senate have made the issue somewhat divisive among Democrats.
The IDC, which boasts eight members after growing its ranks since last fall, has maintained a majority coalition with Republicans, who hold a bare 32-member majority thanks to a Brooklyn Democrat who conferences with them. The divide between the IDC and the mainline Senate Democrats is well-documented and has shown itself on the raise the age issue.
The mainline Democrats have pushed their own version of the legislation as the IDC simultaneously pushes for raising the age. The IDC’s coalition with the Republicans has spurred criticisms that the IDC might be able to score only a watered-down version of raise the age, if anything.
On Tuesday, state Sen. Diane Savino, an IDC member from Staten Island, told reporters that lawmakers should be open to a solution that solves the problem and not be drawn into an intransigent position on certain details of the legislative proposal.
“What I would only say to my colleagues is let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good on this issue,” she told reporters, noting that she believes there is a misconception that using the family court system is a panacea. “Far too many young people’s lives are at stake.”
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