Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a victory lap of sorts today, pitching last night’s so-called Big Ugly deal on some of Albany’s lingering, more contentious issues as a major win for taxpayers — though labor unions and some good-government advocates certainly disagree.
In addition to a video released this morning, Cuomo appeared on a pair of Albany-based radio programs, spending much of his time to touting the benefits of pension reforms for the state and local governments. Cuomo’s office estimates the reduced retirement benefits for new employees will save local governments $80 billion over the next three decades.
He also made the case that Albany is functioning again, pointing to the agreements on thorny issues as proof. (Senate Democrats don’t buy it.)
“I think the sense was here — we knew the facts, we knew where we were, we knew the positions, we’ve been discussing it for months ad nauseum,” Cuomo said on Talk-1300AM (WGDJ) in Albany. “Then make a decision and move. Government is about action.”
Cuomo has already been facing pushback from some good-government groups, including one led by former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, who had circulated a pledge many lawmakers signed that promised to create an independent redistricting process in 2012. Lawmakers agreed last night to begin the process of amending the constitution to set up a bipartisan panel to redraw lines, beginning in 2022.
“While the Governor worked hard to produce a better outcome, and while there are glimmers of hope for reform in the future, this puts off reform for a decade and forces the voters to endure ten more years of the undemocratic way the Legislature’s district lines are drawn,” Koch said in a statement. “I am disappointed that the Governor compromised.”
Cuomo said the redistricting outcome was the best he could do, given the circumstances. But he touted the reforms for future years, and said a veto of lawmaker-drawn lines wouldn’t have accomplished that.
“On redistricting, this is far from perfect. And this was an incredibly complex and difficult situation from the get go,” he said. “…I did not accomplish what I had hoped to accomplish. I had hoped initially during the campaign to convince the Legislature to do an independent commission this year for these lines. That’s what I had hoped. I was not successful in that. Period.”