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The Empire

Cuomo's Blueprint? Arm-Wrestling

· by admin

It seems that Governor Cuomo is successfully managing to arm wrestle the notoriously persnickety and difficult state legislature into accepting his budget proposal with just a few concessions, on time, no less. Few New York State governors can say as much, particularly when they are faced with eliminating a $10 billion deficit.

"The governor is in the midst of a honeymoon period with the people of the state of New York and he has used his tremendous popularity to great effect in persuading the legislature to go along with some extremely difficult cuts," said Hakeem Jeffries. The state assemblyman believes the governor has capitalized on public sentiment that New York state government is so broken and so in need of fiscal discipline that he was able to ram his austerity through.

"People who are mechanisms of political change are so relieved to have anything resembling adult leadership at this point that they're more than willing to defer a great deal of whether it be their personal apprehensions or political desires to get the job done because it's such a change from what we've gone through in the last few years," said Michael Oliva, a Democratic political consultant. "I think that's a lot of the reason why he's been able to do this as easily as he has," he continued.

Oliva also theorized that the state legislature and special interests can't help but compare Cuomo to governors around the country who have been even more harsh with cuts. "If you view it through that prism of what these governors are doing around the country, this feels rather tame by comparison. The sacrifices that Cuomo is more or less imposing on the state is nothing compared to what's going on in other places so I think he gets a lot of deference because it just doesn't look as extreme," Oliva said.

Assuming Cuomo manages to get the budget passed on deadline, April 1, even without enacting his threatened emergency powers, his next big fight will be rent regulation and a cap on local property taxes. Assemblyman Jeffries says progressives and the 2.5 million people who live in rent regulated apartments in the state are counting on Cuomo to bat for their team.

"We're hopeful that governor Cuomo will demonstrate the same skill and assertiveness that he showed during this budget process with respect to the legislative session particularly as it relates to the strengthening of the rent regulation laws," said Jeffries.

-- Sarah Kate Kramer