Pressed on his comments last week to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle editorial board, Gov. Andrew Cuomo today expressed reluctance toward issuing a veto and kicking the redistricting process to a court, saying it wouldn’t achieve “real reform.”
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of his cabinet, Cuomo said he wants to see the state constitution changed, taking the redistricting process out of the hands of the majority parties in the state Legislature. But issuing a veto would likely allow a court-appointed special master to draw the lines, which would keep the current Legislature-led system in place for future redistricting cycles.
“What you don’t achieve in that option is, you don’t achieve any reform,” Cuomo said. “The real problem, which is the constitution and the law, stays in place. And 10 years from now, the Legislature draws the lines once again.”
Cuomo reiterated that he would veto the current proposals for state lines from LATFOR, the Legislature’s redistricting task force led by Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats. But he stopped short of vowing to veto revised, improved lines from LATFOR, saying he wants a “better product and a better process.”
“If they send me these lines, I’m going to veto these lines,” he said. “I want a better product and I want a better process. I want an independent process. I want fairer lines. I want this to stop so that this is the last time this happens.”
Cuomo had told the Democrat and Chronicle there were three things that need to happen for the Legislature to avoid a veto: Fairer lines, a constitutional amendment, and a law to reform the redistricting process should the amendment not take hold. (Constitutional amendments have to be passed by separately elected Legislatures and by a public referendum.)
“The problem here is the constitution,” Cuomo said today. “It’s the law. We tend to leave that out. We don’t want the Legislature to draw their own lines. I know, but it happens to be the law. If you want to change it, change the law. In the meantime, these lines are not fair. They’re hyper-political. Period.”
Asked if he is willing to “sacrifice” lines this year for reforms for future redistricting cycles, Cuomo said: “I’m not willing to sacrifice anything. I want fair lines for this year and reform.”
Update: Here’s a quick video of Cuomo discussing redistricting today.