Gov. Cuomo will be seen as a winner yet again
Remember when you used to play Monopoly? Everyone got tired at
the end and you began to “trade” properties. Fortunately for the citizens of New York state, the Monopoly rules have changed, probably for the better.
A number of politicians have gone to jail or are currently under indictment. The power of the legislative leaders has been reduced because of missteps or new political realities. Further, we have elected a very popular and ambitious governor with a huge agenda that he hopes will take him to the White House. His popularity has allowed him to muscle the legislative leaders to help him get where he wants to go.
Against that backdrop, the last minutes “trades” begin. The governor says he wants public campaign financing. I’m not so sure that he really wants it. After all, he has a ton of money in his own campaign coffers and if reform is enacted, he might not be able to use all that money to his own advantage.
On the other hand, if Hillary Clinton doesn’t run and he gets a presidential shot in 2016, he’ll want to make his case to the Democratic delegates that he brought campaign finance to the people of New York state. Then he will surely argue that he can do the same thing for the whole country if he’s elected president.
As for the legislative leaders, Speaker Shelly Silver says he wants campaign finance and passes one-house bills every year. But when the rubber hits the road, let’s just see whether Silver wants to potentially diminish his own power by spending all the money he collects to help his favorites win. As for Republican Senate leader Dean Skelos, he wants nothing to do with it. I wonder whether Cuomo can talk turkey to Skelos since there are now more Democrats than Republicans in the Senate and Skelos remains leader only because Cuomo has looked the other way. My bet is that this campaign reform is not going to happen and I suspect that the players, most especially Cuomo, don’t want it to happen.
Cuomo also wants gambling casinos all over the state to help New York raise money. He says that the first casinos should only be upstate. Obviously, the New York City Democrats want some in and around the Big Apple and once the trades begin, they will get something. We will see more gambling in New York state, assuming the voters agree to a constitutional amendment and Cuomo will claim he tried to help upstate.
Also on the upstate agenda is the Cuomo proposal to bring tax breaks to businesses which attach themselves to State University campuses. Again, this is designed to help upstate areas that are in the economic doldrums, but if you say that some businesses get tax breaks and others don’t, or that some individuals pay and others don’t, you are setting up a fratricidal system pitting taxpayer against taxpayer. The unions don’t like it. After all, who will support state services if people don’t pay taxes? The Assembly and to some degree even the Republican Senate are supported by the civil service unions. My bet is that something will happen, but it will be a half a loaf and not all that Cuomo says he wants.
Cuomo also wants a bill that will protect women and their reproductive choices. Skelos says he doesn’t want to go as far as Cuomo. My bet is that Cuomo gets some of what he wants but he’ll have to take less than he asked for. When the trades commence, Skelos will have to see that opposing women’s rights in New York is a nonstarter. He’ll have to give in. Cuomo has already won on guns and tax reform so if he gets even a portion of what he wants now, he’ll be seen as a winner yet again.
Originally published in the Legislative Gazette, 6/4/13