Time for action is at hand

Now that Andrew Cuomo is finally governor, will he lead, follow, or get rolled by Albany’s special interests? For the last year, while he was being anointed by the New York press, he spoke powerfully about the state’s problems, but gave few clues on how he planned to address them. Now that he has given his first State of the State speech, can we discern a vision for how he plans to lead New York to recovery?
Cuomo talked in depth about our fiscal dilemma and the many reasons we find ourselves in such dire straits. In some areas, he gave specific recommendations and began to outline his budget plan.
No increase in taxes and no more borrowing. These tactics used in the past have not solved anything and only delayed the coming of judgment day.
He admirably called for a cap on state spending and on state employee wages. Years of profligate spending have resulted in the creation of many unneeded patronage positions, with compensation that is well above that of equivalent workers in the private sector. While no one wants to lay off people in a struggling economy, this situation needs to be dealt with if we have any hope of controlling state spending.
However, that seems to be where any of the specifics end. In order to really address the monumental size of the state’s government, the only idea the governor had was to appoint two different commissions to study the problems and recommend solutions. Not the boldest way to lead. Also, he asked for recommendations after the budget plan is due to be submitted to legislative leaders. Effectively, that postpones any real action until 2013.
Most troubling is who Cuomo thinks should serve on these commissions. He called for “stakeholders” to be in charge. That means union leaders from the same special interests that are primarily responsible for our fiscal deathwatch.
Of course, this could be a cagey tactic to give these groups one chance to be part of the solution instead of being the problem. If they fail to come to the table, Cuomo can brush them aside and take bold action. Or, he can sit by and let the people who have the most to lose dictate our course of action, in what will most likely be a very self-serving plan.
We will soon see what Cuomo is really made of by how he handles these commissions. But, ultimately, the only stakeholders that we need to protect are the taxpayers of New York.

Robert Hornak is a Queens-based political consultant and an active member of the Queens Republican Party.

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