Greg David

Remember how Andrew Cuomo won a decisive victory for governor in 2010 and swept into Albany determined to fix things? He tackled a $10 billion budget deficit (while explaining it was really a $7 billion deficit over the previous year as an example of truth telling). He recruited top-notch talent to solve big problems such as the state’s rapidly increasing spending on Medicaid.

Things have really changed in the near decade he’s been in office.

Let’s start with Medicaid. In March, with Medicaid spending running far over budget, the governor quietly delayed into April a $2 billion payment due to providers. April is the start of the new fiscal year, so the move technically kept Medicaid spending under the cap that he’d instituted. The maneuver was discovered only a few months later, when sharp-eyed journalist Bill Hammond found a line about the payment delay in a budget document.

Last week Hammond looked at the numbers again and reported that by the halfway point in the fiscal year, the state has spent 61% of the Medicaid allocation, meaning New York is likely to end the year with a $3 billion shortfall in the budget. So far the administration has been conspicuously silent about what it intends to do about the problem.

News also broke last week that as part of an agreement on how much to raise Con Edison’s rates, the utility has agreed to foot the bill for $240 million in subway repairs it was not previously responsible for. Of course, Con Ed isn’t really paying. It is passing the cost along to its customers. This sleight of hand, which is essentially levying a tax without legislative approval, has gotten very little attention, with the New York Post as one of the few media outlets to report on it.

Speaking of the MTA, there is last week’s near resignation of NYC Transit President Andy Byford. He had finally had enough of Cuomo constantly interfering with his job of fixing the subways, needless meddling that merely reflects the governor’s long-running bid to convince the public that he is the savior of the transit system.

Cuomo’s aides convinced Byford to stay, but nothing like this happened in the early years of the Cuomo era. Right after the 2010 election, he lured Jason Helgerson from Wisconsin, where he had reformed an out-of-control political system, told him to do the same in New York and came up with the political strategy to make it work.

I don’t think there is any chance the “good” Cuomo will return. But at least the governor does care about media criticism and his poll numbers. That’s the only way to keep him on the right path.

© 2019 Crain’s New York

You may also like

State’s Growing Budget Hole Threatens NYC Jobs and Aid as Congress Takes a Holiday

“The biggest problem for the state is the enormous, recurring structural budget gap starting next year and into the future,” said E.J. McMahon of the conservative-leaning Empire Center. “Cuomo clearly hopes that starting in 2021, (Democratic presidential candidate Joseph) Biden and a Democratic Congress will provide states and local government a couple of year’s worth of added stimulus. Read More

How Andrew Cuomo became ‘maybe the most powerful governor’ in U.S.

Ed McKinley ALBANY — When the New York Constitution was reorganized nearly 100 years ago to give the governor more power over the budget process,  noted there was a risk of making “the governor a czar." M Read More

Study disputes Cuomo on Trump tax package; experts say it’s complicated

Michael Gormley ALBANY — A new study by a conservative think tank says President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax law gave most New Yorkers a tax cut, even as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo insists on repealing the measure because he says it will cost New Yo Read More

Empire Center sues Department of Health over nursing home records

Johan Sheridan ALBANY, N.Y. () — The Empire Center filed a  against the state Department of Health on Friday. “This case isn’t about assigning blame or embarrassing political leaders,” said Bill Hammond, the Empire Center’s Read More

Good news: That New York pork isn’t going out the door after all

The Empire Center first reported Tuesday that grants — 226 of them, totaling $46 million, to recipients selected by the governor and individual state lawmakers — seemed to still be going ahead. Read More

New York Lawmakers Seek Independent Probe of Nursing-Home Coronavirus Deaths

With lingering questions about how the novel coronavirus killed thousands of New Yorkers who lived in nursing homes, a group of state lawmakers is pushing to create an independent commission to get answers from the state Department of Health. Read More

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

EDITORIAL: Nursing home report requires a second opinion

No doubt, the Health Department and the governor would like this report to be the final word on the subject. But if it’s all the same with them, we’d still like a truly independent review. 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!