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Gay Marriage, Budget and Reforms: Andrew Cuomo Takes Albany

Monday, June 27, 2011

New Yorkers can, for the moment at least, relax. An adult is in charge.

For longer than the public would like to remember, New York's state government has been dysfunctional, its governors ineffective, erratic or both. Now comes Andrew Cuomo, who, during his first six months in office, has actually gotten things done. Even those who do not approve of his policies have to acknowledge his mastery of Albany's maddening game of three-dimensional chess.

A list of his main accomplishments:

He got same-sex marriage through the legislature, recognizing that what seemed impossible was not. Cuomo put his reputation on the line to win over a recalcitrant Republican State Senate, orchestrating the complex strategy that involved everything from fundraising to personal persuasion, even putting a top political aide in charge of the lobbying and ad campaigns.

He negotiated rather than dictated concessions from the public employee unions, without scapegoating them or waging an ideologically driven war the way some governors did, chief among them Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Chris Christie of New Jersey.

Cuomo persuaded reluctant fellow Democrats to go along with a property tax cap, and engineered a compromise on rent regulations that gave Democrats and Republicans something - but less than both sides wanted. He presided over the smoothest budget process in years, and he demonstrated fine-tuned political skill in dealing with the two powerful state legislative leaders, managing to avoid a public dispute with either one.

Cuomo has not aced every issue he has touched. His ethics reform is full of loopholes, he has yet to tackle public union pensions – the big-ticket labor issue – and is governing with an irritating lack of transparency. He punted on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s effort to end the onerous system of laying off the most recently hired teachers first (Last Hired, First Out or LIFO). He has disappointed liberal Democrats and advocates for the poor with his statewide property tax cap, deep budget cuts and opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy.

To the frustration of his Democratic base, Cuomo has positioned himself as a centrist (a hint of national ambitions, perhaps?).

But so far, the approach has worked. Not since the 1970s, when Hugh Carey led the effort to save New York City from an imminent threat of bankruptcy, has a governor of New York been as focused, or accomplished as much as Cuomo has since January.

Six months is just that - six months. Maybe New York's infamously feckless state government will regress, and reality will catch up with the new governor. Or maybe Andrew Cuomo is on his way to fundamentally changing Albany's long-embarrassing reality.

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Comments [3]

medken from NYC

Unlike the lunatic above, I am a moderate thinking individual who has no illusions as to what Cuomo is up against in Albany or what he has accomplished so far. However, from my admittedly self serving perspective, I dont think the author should overlook his shortcomings. Particularly in this recent health care reform, physicians have not gotten any relief from the relentless battering of the NYS Assembly, though he promised to several important segments of the healthcare industry to get healthcare tort reform passed. Instead, he used this support as a pawn to get other measures of the bill passed and in the end, threw physicians, hospitals, and healthcare workers under the bus. NYS is ranked 49 out of 50 as one of the most litigiously retrogressive states when it comes to tort reform thanks to Albany. Several years ago our malpractice insurance was raised 14 percent in one year to force the issue of tort reform. Sheldon Silver, ever the trial lawyer, defended his peers and stood firm against reform. Insurance premiums have continued to rise..It is over 600 percent higher than it was ten years ago. Physicians are fleeing the state particularly when they will be needed most. Medical students refuse to go into Primary Care because it pays the least when student loans and payments to malpractice insurers are at an all time high. This year three RETROgressive bills are being introduced in the NYS assembly/senate to increase lawyer fees and other measures sure to increase malpractice cases and sure to increase malpractice insurance premiums even more. The governor has been SILENT about this. Dealmaker? Sure. But his constituents had better not get too sick too soon.

Jul. 03 2011 11:26 AM
anna from new york

Yes, Joyce, and "statewide property tax cap, deep budget cuts and opposition to raising taxes on the wealthy" are not an embarrassment in Albany. Sure.
NPR, and you couldn't find anyone with a minimal dose of education, intelligence and decency for political analysis. And this isn't an embarrassment. Sure.
Maybe, maybe, maybe, it's good that Cuomo is a Duce and that European 20th century repeats itself in the 21st century America. Some people clearly deserve this experience.
dr anna

Jun. 28 2011 06:29 PM
anna from New York

"An adult is in charge."
A Duce is in charge. Fascism has evolved and the present day fascists embrace gay marriage if it paves the way to power while beating up every vulnerable group they can find.
Overfed, overprivileged and overprimitive New York "liberals" are happy.

Jun. 28 2011 05:32 PM

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