Gov. Cuomo’s ducking the Legislature this year and skipping his State of the State Address. Instead, he’ll deliver six regional speeches tailored to local audiences.
That alone speaks volumes about the state of the state. And though you won’t hear Cuomo say it, things go downhill from there — fast. The actual state of New York? Consider, to start, why Cuomo’s ducking out: Lawmakers are furious with him.
There was even talk of boycotting his State of the State if he gave it. Why? Mostly because he blocked their pay raise (they haven’t had one since 1999) in what some felt was a . And, at the eleventh hour, he demanded they take up a massive agenda at a special legislative session before year’s end.
No surprise, they declined. The Legislature “must be respected,” a furious Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. Cuomo is also feuding with Mayor de Blasio.
Plus, he’s facing federal corruption probes of his administration. A close confidante, Joseph Percoco, and seven others are already under indictment. The hostility, and probes, threaten to sour the legislative season, which kicks off Wednesday.
True, paralysis isn’t always bad: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session,” it’s said. But some matters need attention. Like the state budget.
Will it be on time this year? Will spending (mammoth at $156 billion, even though Cuomo slowed its growth) be allowed to shoot up? Then there’s the critically needed restoration of a key tax break for developers, known as . It was used to offset prohibitive taxes and encourage and housing development in the city, but Cuomo’s meddling led to its demise, threatening new building. Even if the parties overcome their differences, don’t expect meaningful improvement in the state’s tax burden, onerous regulations or hostile business climate.
And given union power, public education — particularly in the city — isn’t likely to get much better, either. New York, for sure, has much going for it — from its cultural resources to its dynamic urban economy to its constant influx of immigrants. But it’s got a long way to go before it becomes the vibrant, politically healthy state it could be.