Cuomo Honeymoon in Full Swing, but Budget Proposal Looms Large

Governor Andrew Cuomo is at the highest point of popularity since he first held political office four years ago. But the governor's standing could decline when he releases his budget plan in less than two weeks.

Cuomo, the state's former Attorney General who's been governor since January 1, has always enjoyed a high measure of public support, at least according to opinion polls.

Currently the governor has a 70 percent approval rating, and the vast majority of New Yorkers say they are behind him in his plans to close a $10 billion dollar budget deficit without raising taxes or borrowing money. They also back his plans to further shore up the state's finances and reform state government's troubling corruption. Steve Greenberg, with Siena College polling, and a political analyst, says Cuomo is riding high, for now.

"Andrew Cuomo is in the middle of his honeymoon with voters right now," Greenberg said.

So far, Cuomo has not had to deliver the details that would make his promises of no new spending and no new taxes come true in the face of the multi-billion dollar deficit. And those details almost certainly will include deep cuts to schools, health care, parks, and police. The New York Times and Wall Street Journal report tens of thousands of layoffs of state workers, the papers say as many as 15,000 employees could lose their jobs.

Cuomo, who has been traveling New York delivering versions of his State of the State message to local communities, said after a speech in Poughkeepsie that there will have to be short-term pain in order to achieve long-term gain.

"The state's financial condition is dire," said Cuomo, who also says the "state has been spending too much money for too long".

"The chickens are coming home to roost," Cuomo said.

Those proverbial chickens may come home February 1st, when Cuomo is required by the state's constitution to release his budget plan.

After that, if the past is any guide, Cuomo will likely be attacked in TV ads by interest groups that benefit from the budget, including education groups and hospitals and health care workers.

Cuomo has been preparing for that eventuality, teaming up with a group of business and real estate industry leaders who have raised millions of dollars to run television spots defending the governor's fiscally conservative agenda. Cuomo himself still holds over $4 million dollars in his campaign war chest.

But Greenberg, with Siena, says the governor is going to have to do more than just wage the battle on the airwaves. He says Cuomo will have to conduct what will likely be the campaign of his life, on numerous fronts.

"February and March in New York this year are going to look like a traditional September and October," said Greenberg, with one difference. "This is not a campaign to elect a particular person to office, this is a campaign for the hearts and minds and support of the voters."

He says the governor is off to a good start, by diligently laying the ground work for public support, as Cuomo has done in the days leading up to what can only be a bad news budget.