ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed two bills intended to make it easier for New Yorkers to get information from their government, instead directing state agencies to hasten their court appeals when a judge orders them to disclose something.

One bill approved by the Legislature would have required courts to award attorneys’ fees when the state denies access to information “in material violation of the law and with no reasonable basis.”

The other would require state agencies to file appeals within 30 days instead of nine months when a judge rules they must make documents, data or other information public.

In veto messages released Saturday, Cuomo calls the bills “inequitable” because they don’t apply the same rules and penalties to citizens or groups making information requests as they do to the state. He also faulted them for failing to apply also to the Legislature and promised to advance comprehensive Freedom of Information Law revisions next year.

“Specifically, the bills are limited to one branch of government further advancing a fractured system, substantially alter the due process rights of the parties and requestors, eliminate judicial discretion in processing appeals under existing law and create inconsistencies in judicial determinations,” Cuomo wrote.

The Empire Center, a fiscally conservative think tank, files thousands of so-called FOIL requests annually for public payrolls, pensions and other spending. It said the bills would have provided more teeth to hold state agencies more accountable to taxpayers.

Government data that’s presumably available would be much easier to see if it was simply published without having to file special information requests, said Executive Director Tim Hoefer.

“It seems crazy to me that we’re vetoing reform measures because he wants other reform measures,” Hoefer said Tuesday. “FOIL was written and implemented so taxpayers could have access to their government spending information. … It’s about that, not about protecting the rights of the agencies.”

The Cuomo administration has been criticized by other advocacy groups and journalists who say the governor’s office tightly controls requests for public records on anything controversial or unfavorable and routinely delays or denies their release.

It’s an allegation the administration has denied, saying it tries to complete the many FOIL requests quickly, with the governor’s staff sometimes consulted by state agencies to ensure consistent, thorough responses.

Cuomo took office five years ago promising the most transparent administration in history.

 

© 2015 Associated Press

 

You may also like

Policy analyst: Cuomo wrong to write-off nursing home criticism as political conspiracy

“The importance of discussing this and getting the true facts out is to understand what did and didn’t happen so we can learn from it in case this happens again,” Hammond said. Read More

The good, the bad and the ugly in Cuomo’s budget

“We are at the early stages of what shapes up as the biggest state and city fiscal crisis since the Great Depression,” said E.J. McMahon of the Empire Center. “Borrowing and short-term cuts aside, the budget doesn’t chart any clear path out of it.” Read More

Editorial: Cuomo’s problematic Medicaid maneuvers

“It’s everything that’s wrong with Albany in one ugly deal,” Bill Hammond, a health policy expert at the fiscally conservative Empire Center, told The Times. Read More

Gov. Cuomo’s Lawsuit on Pres. Trump’s Tax Cuts Dismissed

But according to the Empire Center, a non-profit group based in Albany, the overall impact of the Trump tax cuts actually benefited most state residents. Read More

NYS Healthcare Costs Rise Amid Report Of Pay-To-Play Allegations

Earlier this year, another fiscal watchdog group,  The Empire Center, found that  Cuomo’s budget office had delayed a $1.7 billion Medicaid payment from the previous fiscal year into the current fiscal year. Because of the delay, the governor was able to keep within a self imposed 2% yearly spending cap. Read More

EDITORIAL: CAN WE AFFORD SIX -FIGURE PENSION AS THE NORM?

Six-figure pensions are becoming the norm among retirees from New York’s largest downstate suburban police departments, according to data posted at SeeThroughNY.net, the Empire Center’s transparency website. Read More

After Hospitals’ Donation to New York Democrats, a $140 Million Payout

“It’s everything that’s wrong with Albany in one ugly deal,” said Bill Hammond, a health policy expert at the nonpartisan Empire Center who first noticed the budgetary trick. “The governor was able to unilaterally direct a billion dollars to a major interest group while secretly accepting its campaign cash and papering over a massive deficit in the Medicaid program.” Read More

Comptroller warns of financial distress at the MTA, and the MTA goes on a hiring spree

According to Ken Girardin, a labor analyst at the right-leaning Empire Center for Public Policy, every new police officer will cost the MTA roughly $56,000, which means the new personnel would initially cost the MTA roughly $28 million a year. Those costs should rapidly increase over time, as police salaries rapidly increase. Read More

Subscribe

Sign up to receive updates about Empire Center research, news and events in your email.

CONTACT INFORMATION

Empire Center for Public Policy
30 South Pearl St.
Suite 1210
Albany, NY 12207

Phone: 518-434-3100

General Inquiries: Info@EmpireCenter.org

Press Inquiries: Press@EmpireCenter.org

About

The Empire Center is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit think tank located in Albany, New York. Our mission is to make New York a better place to live and work by promoting public policy reforms grounded in free-market principles, personal responsibility, and the ideals of effective and accountable government.

Empire Center Logo Enjoying our work? Sign up for email alerts on our latest news and research.
Together, we can make New York a better place to live and work!