Cuomo’s commission kick

by E.J. McMahon |  | Cuomo's commission kick

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s propensity for creating advisory committees, commissions and task forces — more than two dozen in all — is the subject of an article in today’sWall Street Journal [subscription required].

Says Cuomo’s press spokesman:

“The commissions and advisory panels bring together unprecedented talent, experience and expertise in order to devise bold and consensus solutions to the most critical challenges facing the state and, under the governor’s leadership, it [sic] has been an unequivocal success.”

Well, at least he didn’t call it “historic.”

In reality, there was a notable lack of “bold and consensus solutions” in the final report of the governor’s Mandate Relief Redesign Team.  The team (or, rather, the Cuomo aides who wrote its report) sidestepped obvious but politically sensitive ideas like the proposed repeal of theTriborough Amendment, which is broadly supported by municipal and school officials across the state.  Under legislation enacted last year, the redesign team has now been succeeded by an 11-member Mandate Relief Council whose mission is circumscribed to ensure it focuses on direct cost mandates, rather than Triborough-like rules that indirectly shape compensation costs and the managerial prerogatives of local officials.

Cuomo’s use of outside advisory groups certainly has been a successful political tactic, buying time for the governor while creating an impression of movement and reform. The Medicaid Redesign Team, in particular, effectively co-opted the hospitals, unions and other health-care interest groups that could otherwise have derailed the governor’s first budget in a fight over Medicaid cuts. The massive Medicaid program hasn’t yet been fundamentally restructured for the long haul, which would require a combination of federal waivers and permanent statutory changes.  But for now, at least, the state share of spending on the program is being kept within Cuomo’s initial Medicaid spending cap, which was the governor’s immediate priority.

Cuomo is next due to appoint a tax reform commission, first promised last December.  This group will have its work cut out for it.

- E.J. McMahon is the Research Director at the Empire Center for Public Policy.