It’s a Tale of Two Governors, both named Andrew Cuomo. One places at least some limits on spending taxpayer cash; the other burns through it like there’s no tomorrow.
Somewhat-Responsible Cuomo just vetoed several cynical bids by state lawmakers to steer yet more taxpayer dollars to public-sector unions. Bills they sent for his John Hancock included pension sweeteners, expanded death and disability benefits and better health-insurance terms for retirees.
One would’ve rolled back part of his 2012 pension reform for court officers, the Empire Center’s Ken Girardin notes, restoring full retirement benefits at age 62. That and 11 other pension and benefit sweeteners would’ve cost $53 million in the “near term” alone, says Cuomo. And other unions would have lined up shouting “me, too.”
Cuomo also wisely nixed legislation that would’ve forced state agencies to use public employees rather than private contractors, even when they offer better value.
Either that or the court-officer bill alone “would have made it more difficult” for the gov to stay within his 2 percent spending-growth cap and emboldened lawmakers to push “even more expensive giveaways,” says Girardin. Cuomo’s vetoes, he believes, are “a positive sign” for his third term.
But then there’s Drunken-Sailor Cuomo. That governor signed two bills to expand or enrich New York’s totally ineffective “economic development” programs, plus a third to create a whole new one.
Cuomo has long pretended these programs boost the economy. With his blessing, the state has handed out $4 billion a year in public funds to chosen companies.
Despite all that cash, upstate jobs have stagnated and residents have fled for greener pastures. But firms that get the goodies have donated nicely to Cuomo’s campaigns. Indeed, the set-up has resulted in more corruption than economic growth.
Cuomo must yet decide whether to OK several other economic-development and benefit-booster bills, including one that would scrap the $15,000 cap on overtime pay that counts toward figuring pensions for a class of transit workers.
Such a Christmas gift to their union — at the expense of riders — would be outrageous at a time when New York’s broken transit system faces steep budget gaps, looming fare hikes and Moody’s lowering of its outlook for the MTA to negative.
Yet all of these bills deserve to be rejected. The only question is which governor will win out: Responsible Cuomo? Or the one who puts his own interests above those of average New Yorkers?
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