Cuomo to Deliver State of the State Address Wednesday on WXXI
Governor Cuomo will deliver his second State of the State message Wednesday. The governor faces continued budget deficits, and a soft economy as well as a looming redistricting deadline.
Cuomo is expected to follow up on priorities he began during his very busy first year in office. He will likely try to close a remaining $2 billion dollar budget gap without raising any new taxes. In December, the governor agreed to increase taxes on New Yorkers making over $2 million dollars a year to gain needed revenue, and at the time said he did not endorse any further new taxes in 2012.
Cuomo has already promised a 4% increase in health and education spending, so the cuts may have to come from shrinking state government, through consolidation or other means. Cuomo has also talked about mandate relief and pension reform, but did not make much progress on either of those items during his first year in office.
Assembly Republican Minority leader Brian Kolb, says he hopes the governor will pursue those changes as part of a job creation plan to get business to “expand here, stay here and come here.”
The leader of the Republicans who control the state Senate, Dean Skelos, says he expects more of the same from Cuomo in his State of the State message, and the new session, and he says that’s a good thing.
“It worked last year,” said Skelos. “And there’s no reason why it can’t work this year.”
2012 marks Senator Skelos second full year as Majority Leader.
But the governor will get pushback from the state worker unions if he tries to balance the budget solely through state agency cuts and consolidations, says Public Employees Federation President Ken Brynien. Brynien says he told the governor, that after the unions accepted numerous concessions in contracts settled last fall, enough is enough.
“I told him you can’t come back to us for anything else,” said Brynien. “You’ve got as much as you are going to get, you’ve got to look elsewhere.”
Brynien says Cuomo and lawmakers should instead be eliminating what he says is “high priced” outsourcing of government work to private consultants and contractors, and closing corporate tax loopholes.
“We get gypped over what we should get,” said Brynien. When you have corporations that are paying nothing.”
There is a potential source of conflict, as well, between Senate Republicans and the Democratic Governor. The Senate and Assembly must complete newly drawn district lines in the first few weeks of the year, and Cuomo has threatened to veto new lines that are not drawn in a non partisan manner by an independent commission. Nevertheless, the Senate and Assembly have continued the process of drawing their own new lines.
Senate Leader Skelos would not reveal details of the proposed new lines, but does say it’s likely that a new 63rd Senate district will be created.
“There’s a good chance that they’ll go to 63.”
An additional district, depending on how it’s drawn, could help the GOP strengthen its current slim one vote majority in the Senate. It would also prevent gridlock created during a coup attempt in 2009, when the 62 Senators divided evenly between two opposing factions.
Senator Michael Gianaris, a Democrat who is in the minority in the Senate, says creation of a 63rd district is illegal and unconstitutional and would be a power grab.
“The Senate Republicans are tearing up the state constitution just so they can maintain political power,” said Gianaris. “That’s despicable."
Cuomo has also talked of making schools and school administrators more accountable, and he has yet to fulfill a key component of his reform agenda, the public financing of campaigns. Govern reform groups hope Cuomo will address that topic in his State of the State message.