Eighteen months ago,there was something special about Gov. Cuomo’s sparkling and refreshing approach to governance. He impressed many observers as the tonic for Albany’s ills.
But today the UnDemocrat seems to be losing his fizz.
In his first year,we were impressed by Cuomo’s unDemocrat-like embrace of low taxes,smaller government and competition. The governor showed an ability to go both to his right (property-taxcap,no new taxes) and to his left (rent-law renewal and gay marriage).
At the close of his second legislative session,however, Cuomo appears to be losing his bite. There has been no progress on big items such as mandate relief,repeal of the Triborough Amendment and funding for construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge.
Also disappointing is that Cuomo, after declaring New York open for business; now appears to want to severely limit natural-gas exploitation. Similarly,declaring himself the “students’ lobbyist,” he proposes to limit the public disclosure of teacher-evaluation data.
The governor’s earlier willingness to tell hard truths and set aside old political orthodoxies gave him his bite and buzz —and now it’s missing.
The Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon says that Cuomo could provide tremendous relief to the city (and to Westchester,Nassau,Suffolk and other counties) by enacting legislation that sets a minimum level for public workers’ contribution for their health insurance. But we don’t hear from the governor about that.
And Cuomo has flatly ruled out looking at the fiscal implications of continuing the Triborough Amendment —which allows public-employee unions to enjoy all the benefits of expired labor contracts (including step raises) even if they refuse to negotiate a new one.
The new governor arrived in Albany saying that he would do the things that matter to the people despite the howls of special interests. He seems to be retreating from that pledge.
Whatever happens on disclosure of teacher evaluations,the larger deal on a teacher-evaluation system remains incomplete. Most important,the United Federation of Teachers still hasn’t struck a deal with the city on how to use student test scores in these evaluations.
Perhaps Cuomo’s disappointing second act is an odd case of seasonal affective disorder?
From December to March,Cuomo takes bold fiscal actions (tax-hike legerdemain,spending cuts,Tier VI pension reform,delivering on-time state budget,etc.)
By the spring thaw,his liberal side emerges from the frost (i.e.,same-sexmarriage,ending finger imaging,fracking limits,weak teacher evaluation disclosure, etc.).
Is climate change the reason Cuomo the unDemocrat seems to be going flat? His once-flamboyant pop and sparkle have been replaced by hemming and hawing.
In the fight over expanded casino gaming,Cuomo’s opponents have made hay over the financial involvement of gaming interests in his Committee to Save New York. They allege that Cuomo is beholden to the special interests that finance the CSNY.
It would be a great shame if Cuomo becomes just another Democrat relying on special interests,media hype and flashy advertising to distinguish himself from other politicians.
I hope he gets back to the UnDemocrat formula,whose fizz and bite was a refreshing break for New Yorkers tired of politics as usual.