THE AMAZING SHRINKING GOVERNOR – By George J. Marlin
The following appears in the July 5-11 2013 issue of the Long Island Business News:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s voter approval ratings have been dropping like a rock, from the high 70s to the mid-50s. Why? He’s been exposed as just another pol whose actions do not live up to his big talk.
To boast that his third budget in a row passed on time, Cuomo abandoned the sound and tough fiscal measures he employed in his first year in office.
Instead, he adopted the Mario Cuomo/George Pataki smoke and mirrors approach to balancing budgets.
Hence, the Cuomo budget for fiscal 2013-2014 is riddled with one-shot revenue, tax and fee increases, back-door borrowing and overly optimistic revenue estimates.
His most egregious budget gimmick is the $350 rebate check, to be delivered by mail to a select group of New Yorkers, which will cost taxpayers about $400 million. The checks will not be distributed during the present fiscal year, by the way, but in October 2014, one month before the state elections.
Another dismal failure has been Cuomo’s much heralded Public Integrity Act, which included the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
The slew of state legislators indicted in May and the Assemblyman Vito Lopez scandal proved the “new and improved” ethics board is a toothless tiger.
As for Cuomo’s 2013 legislative achievements, there’s not much to write home about:
The Fiscal Restructuring Board Cuomo alleged will help financially distressed municipalities is nothing more than a subterfuge for the extension of the rigged mandatory arbitration law written by the public employee unions.
The pension budget relief program doesn’t curb ever-growing local government pension contributions. It merely sticks current liabilities to future generations of taxpayers.
The LIPA legislation will probably do little to help struggling commercial and residential ratepayers. The re-structuring of LIPA debt, particularly with interest rates trending upward, is not expected to achieve the projected $30 million in annual savings.
The governor blinked on the proposal to decrease LIPA/National Grid payments in lieu of taxes to local governments and school districts, which total $586 million annually.
He failed to acknowledge that the payments are based on outrageously over-assessed values of electrical facilities and are unfair subsidies to favored government sub-divisions.
The approved casino plan is irrational. Giving casino location preference to upstate communities and not to New York City and Long Island where there is demand could prove to be disastrous.
Private-sector investors may not have any interest in ponying up hundreds of millions of dollars for gambling ventures in areas that may not attract the “high-rollers” needed to make facilities profitable.
Don’t be surprised if voters reject the constitutional amendment to legalize casinos this November.
Cuomo’s over-hyped tax-free zones on state-owned land on or near public or private universities, which now includes New York City, will probably go the way of Pataki’s failed and scandal-ridden tax-free enterprise zones. Expect the politically connected to be awarded tax-free havens, with few jobs created.
Finally, Cuomo’s hastily drafted campaign finance bill and his fatally flawed women’s rights legislation – both introduced in the final days of the legislative session – got nowhere.
All the glowing press releases proclaiming the dawn of a new New York cannot cover up the fact that the governor’s drive to change the business climate by cutting taxes and regulations has stalled.
The proof Cuomo has failed: The dim-witted governor of Texas has figured the Empire State is ripe for the picking and has financed an advertising campaign aimed at poaching businesses.
If that’s not a wake-up call for Cuomo, I don’t know what it will take to jar him out of his political coma.