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 25, 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.
300 new jobs
Right after last Friday's Smackdown was published, Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bloomberg announced that the Brooklyn Navy Yard would be home to almost 300 new jobs, courtesy of two new high-tech tenants. Investment in the Yard's new Green Manufacturing Center will also produce about 400 construction jobs, according to a statement by the governor's office.
The Associated Press reports the Navy Yard has nearly doubled the number of workers over the past decade. Six thousand employees now work there, compared with 3,600 in 2001.
Did we mention that it's a "green" project, too?
- Verdict: +2
Pension earnings shortfall
While Christie has been dealing with his own set of fiscal shortfalls (more on that later), Cuomo had an under-performance of his own this week, courtesy of the state's pension fund.
A report from the state comptroller's office found the pension fund's rate of return for the last fiscal year to be 5.96 percent, which is under the 7.5 percent long-term projected rate.
The silver lining is obvious: At least the pension fund's rate of return is positive. But considering the hard-fought concessions Cuomo's already earned from public employees over the last year, the governor needs that return rate to be higher. Especially if, as Cuomo says, the taxpayer would have to bear the cost of a less-than-adequate performance in the future.
- Verdict: -1
Losing the gun vote?
Over at the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Paul Mulshine writes that at a recent session of the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, he was surprised to find members of the pro-gun group would choose Democrat and state Senate President Steve Sweeney over Christie in a race for governor next year.
"That's not good news for Christie on the state level," Mulshine writes. "And it's not good news if he has national ambitions either."
No kidding. Given New Jersey's strict gun control laws, and the fact Christie hasn't done much to change them while in office, Garden State gun advocates may offer a sneak peek at the criticisms Christie could draw from the likes of the NRA during a primary campaign.
Dig a little deeper into his record, and you'll find that he also supported the state's assault-weapons ban during a run for Assembly in 1995.
Bottom line: If you have gun advocates telling you they'd prefer a Democrat over a Republican, pinch yourself to make sure you aren't dreaming, then remind that Republican is the party of "Don't retreat, reload!"
- Verdict: -1
Budget shortfall may mean borrowing for transportation
Last week we talked about how April tax revenue was 5.3 percent lower than expected in New Jersey. This week, the state's office of Legislative Serves predicted a $1.3 billion shortfall through the end of the 2013 fiscal year.
Christie, who takes issue with any criticism from anyone anywhere, no matter their qualifications or office, was quick to offer a counter-estimate: The shortfall would only be $676 million.
But that's still a shortfall, and Christie is still pushing for a 10 percent income tax cut that opponents say the state can't possible afford in the face of such a deficit.
On top of that, Christie has said he wants to borrow another $260 million for transportation projects. Just last year, Christie had promised to cut down on transportation borrowing.
That's one big hole in the budget, and at least one broken promise.
- Verdict: -2