Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
Who Had the Better Week—Cuomo or Christie?
Friday, May 18, 2012
Both rock stars in their own right, both trying to right their states' ships, and both building serious momentum for a potential presidential run. Every Friday, we'll look at whose week will look better on a résumé come 2016.
Check out last week's results here.
Ends food stamp fingerprinting
On Thursday Governor Cuomo announced that food stamp recipients would no longer have to be fingerprinted as a condition of receiving assistance.
Going around Mayor Bloomberg, who supports fingerprinting as a way to deter fraud, Cuomo's rule change takes New York City off the extremely short list of places in the U.S. with that hurdle in place. After the change, Arizona will be the only place left in the U.S. where people who get food stamps must submit to fingerprinting.
That's about the only thing New York City and Arizona had in common, and it serves Cuomo's aspirations within the Democratic party to scrap it. In a way, fingerprinting for food stamps resembles the voter ID laws that tend to rankle liberals; that the only place doing it in the U.S. is also home to one of the strictest anti-illegal immigration laws in the country invites more comparisons that the average Democrat might find unfavorable.
Putting some distance between himself and those kinds of policies should help his case for 2016.
- Verdict: +1
Budgets back tax cap
Almost all of the state's school budgets were approved on Tuesday, even though districts were prevented from raising property taxes above a certain amount in order to cover costs.
It's a good sign that voters are on board with Governor Cuomo's property tax cap, which is set at the lower of 2.5 percent or the rate of inflation. Only 29 out of 675 school districts voted to exceed it. Not too shabby.
- Verdict: +1
Revenues fall short
While Andrew Cuomo's tax cap went into action, Chris Christie's tax revenue fell short.
New Jersey reported this week that April tax collections were lower than expected — 5.3 percent lower, to be exact. Over the course of the entire fiscal year, which began last July, revenues have risen only halfway to what the administration wanted.
In previous weeks we've talked about how its a plus that revenues are increasing at all; that fact has allowed Christie to push for an income tax cut, which would also increase his popularity.
But a widening revenue shortfall (now $230 million), if left unattended, would undermine Christie's case for a cut. And a state that doesn't have its fiscal house in order come 2016 would undermine Christie's case for the Republican nomination, too.
- Verdict: 0
'I got this'
If this week were a Guv-Mayor tag-team competition, the combo of New Jersey's Christie and Booker would have walloped New York's Cuomo and Bloomberg.
While the New Yorkers found themselves at odds over food stamp fingerprinting, Christie and Booker found themselves YouTube stars with a joint video satirizing themselves.
Bipartisanship! Vice President jokes! Seinfeld references!
This is also kind of apropos of nothing, right? Looks like they just did it for fun, and not to promote some policy or agenda or campaign or anything. Could Bloomy and Gumby pull off something similar? Doubtful. Between Christie's YouTube smackdowns, Booker's Twitter (he used it to shovel snow, remember?), and now this viral video, New Jersey's social media is putting New York's to shame.
That video alone got way more coverage —and positive coverage, no less — than anything Cuomo did all week.
- Verdict: +3