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The Empire

Doubting Cuomo's stakeholders

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Jacob Gershman plunges into the problem Andrew Cuomo faces by bringing major unions into the discussion about how to lower state spending, which they normally oppose:

What happens if a consensus never materializes or it serves the interest of the policy teams over the interests of the public? In other words, what is Mr. Cuomo prepared to do if the stakeholders start to behave like special interests?

Some see an implicit threat in Mr. Cuomo's approach, that he'll use the hammer of his executive budget if they don't cooperate and try to impose cuts on his own terms.

For now, the interest groups say they're game and receptive to the governor's demands for lower spending. But it's hard to see how Mr. Cuomo will avoid a painful conflict, particularly when there's less money to go around than in past years and when he starts to wade into the issue of public-employee retirement costs.

Mr. Cuomo is counting on interest groups to recognize their stake in the state's future. It remains to be seen if they instead decide to stick a stake into the heart of his agenda.