Mahoney, possible running mate, comes to Cuomo’s defense on unfunded mandates

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Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney may have passed her first audition to be Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s running mate this year.

Mahoney, a Republican who endorsed Cuomo in 2010, came to Cuomo’s defense near Syracuse today when he was asked by a reporter about unfunded state mandates — the key complaint of local governments.

She answered before Cuomo could.

“We’ve really banged the drum with this governor on mandates, and he has responded,” Mahoney said.

It doesn’t hurt that Cuomo was in town to announce $30 million in state aid for redevelopment around Onondaga Lake, but Mahoney had Cuomo’s back on mandates. She said the county’s mandated costs this year are going down for the first time in memory.

“As the county executive, I can tell you that this governor has put a hard cap in place on Medicaid, which stopped the pain and is gradually taking over Medicaid,” she said, but added that, “There’s still a lot of work that can be done.”

Mahoney, despite being a Republican, was considered to be on the short list of potential lieutenant governor candidates for Cuomo in 2010. He picked Rochester Mayor Robert Duffy instead.

Yet Duffy’s future remains uncertain, and there’s a general sense that he won’t seek a second term in November with the governor after he applied to head the Rochester Business Alliance.

Enter Mahoney, who again has been rumored to be someone Cuomo could eye for the job.

For his part, Cuomo agreed with Mahoney on mandate relief.

“The state has picked or prevented more costs than has ever been done in modern political history. We are still pressuring the local governments to reduce costs more. Why? Because the property taxes are too high,” Cuomo said, adding, “Nobody has tightened their belt more than I have.”

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