Cuomo’s Ultimatums, Not So Ultimate? (and besides, he’s not the emperor!)

Cuomo’s Ultimatums, Not So Ultimate?

From the NY State of Politics Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo yesterday doubled downon his “all or nothing” demand of the Legislature when it comes to ethics reform, saying he needs lawmakers to approve the “whole loaf” of what he’s proposing, or risk a late budget – the first since he took office in January 2011.

Newly-minted Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie more or less shrugged off Cuomo’s ultimatum.

The Bronx Democrat said he has no problem discussing ethics reform in the context of the budget, and does not expect the Legislature to miss the mandated April 1 deadline because of it.

But some of Heastie’s members are not so sanguine.

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, (who had questioned the speed with which Heastie rose to power), said on CapTon two nights ago that Cuomo is not an “emperor” and should not be stuffing so much policy into the budget, where state lawmakers have little power to impact it.

It appears the Cuomo administration is open to some negotiation, at least according to Alphonso David, currently the governor’s deputy secretary for civil rights, who is poised to become the governor’s chief counsel later this session.

“I think it’s important to separate the concepts from the final legislative budget,” David said during a CapTon interview last night.

“The governor is saying that he will not sign a budget that does not reflect the concepts that he has outlined,” David continued.

“What the language will look like is going to be subject to negotiation – both as it relates to education and public ethics and campaign finance as well.”

When asked if there is in fact “wiggle room” in Cuomo’s demands, David at first gave a tongue-in-cheek response.

“I would like to think that I’m a fantastic drafter, that when we advance bills to the Legislature that they’re perfect,” he said. “And in many instances they are.”

“But we also recognize that we might miss a comma, or we might miss an ‘and’ or an ‘or’. If the Legislature feels that we need to modify the legislative proposals to make sure they’re grammatically correct, I’m sure we’re going to be open to that.”

Joking aside, David did say that the issue of complete disclosure of lawmakers’ outside income – a proposal the governor says will be the strictest in the nation if adopted – is “not negotiable.”

As for what the final budget language looks like, David said, “we will talk to the Legislature, and we hope to come to the meeting of the minds.”

He said the Legislature and the administration differ over whether the law requires that client lists – particularly those of attorneys – are privileged, and therefore cannot be publicly disclosed.

If it turns out the law does, in fact, prevent that disclosure, David said, then the governor will seek to change the law.

David said the governor is “open” to the idea of a full-time Legislature with a full ban on outside income – something that does not exist at the state level anywhere else in the country.

But so far, Cuomo has stopped short of calling for the Legislature to end its part-time status, and will be advancing proposals in his 30-day amendments that assume the body will continue to operate on a part-time basis.


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