Cuomo’s Albany dominance takes backseat to political survival


New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference in his office on March 24, 2021 in New York City. | Brendan McDermid-Pool / Getty Images

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Cuomo spends his days remodeling the now tarnished narrative of his tenure as he faces the greatest threat to his decades-long political career.

BY ANNA GRONEWOLD

ALBANY, NY – Andrew Cuomo’s once iron grip on Albany eases as he attempts to fend off calls for his resignation and grapple with multiple investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct.

The state budget is five days late and counting – an Albanian tradition of lateness that Cuomo, a three-time Democrat, boasted long before the end. And as details of the roughly $ 200 billion spending plan emerge this week, the expanded influence of lawmakers and simple progressives is hard to miss.

Cuomo, at risk of impeachment, agreed over the weekend to raise taxes for businesses and the state’s richest residents by about $ 4.3 billion – an idea he long rejected. Cuomo appears to be giving up his earlier opposition to a progressive school funding approach. Legislators are also on the verge of convincing the governor to approve a billion dollar fund to provide retroactive incentives to undocumented immigrants and ex-prison inmates, a potential big victory for the left.

The governor, who once muscled his top priorities through the Capitol annually and rarely has a nose ahead, is now walking according to half a dozen people, according to negotiations with Senate majority leaders Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​and Congregation spokesman Carl Heastie a much easier step familiar with the budget talks. Both Democratic leaders took a tough line against Cuomo last month, with Stewart’s cousins ​​among the first to call for his resignation and Heastie approving an impeachment investigation that began late last month.

Almost a month after he vowed not to let his then-burgeoning sexual harassment scandal deter him from his work, Cuomo now spends his days remodeling the now tarnished narrative of his tenure as he is of the greatest threat to exposed his decades -long political career. He appears to put political survival above his own political priorities and plays well with lawmakers as he flies around the state promoting vaccine advances and announcing moves to open up the state economy.

On Monday, Cuomo appeared to be respectful of lawmakers as he described the budget as “the most complicated, ambitious, and difficult budget we’ve ever run,” and applauded both chambers for tackling pandemic restrictions.

“You worked very hard in very difficult circumstances,” said Cuomo. “So it was a complicated process on top of a complicated product. … But this budget will determine the way for the state for the next 10 years. “

He went on to announce the recent New York legalization of marijuana and local police reform plans that are in place across most of the state, none of which were budget-initiated. He didn’t mention the deals he cut back to sign progressive priorities, including an agreement to temporarily raise taxes for those who earn more than $ 1 million a year. This will give New York’s top earners the highest combined city and state tax rate in the country.

Cuomo’s budget proposal for January included a similar high-income tax hike valued at approximately $ 1.5 billion, which he described as his “worst-case scenario” budget. Its administration backed away The concept based on the latest federal aid package has approved around 12.5 billion US dollars in aid for New York.

The Senate and State Assembly both proposed raising more than $ 6.5 billion through tax increases, even after seeing the US dollar come in, in part due to advances by progressive members, and backed that Warning that a one-off inflow of federal incentives would not be enough to correct existing imbalances in the state’s financial planning.

Cuomo also failed to mention Monday the inflow of more than $ 4 billion in tuition fees expected to be rolled out over a three-year period through a system long sought by progressives. Cuomo has defied their demands, calling them political, and labeling a year-long lawsuit over the subject of “ghosts of the past and distractions from the present.”

Legislators have publicly stated that Cuomo’s scandals – both because of his sexual harassment allegations and his government’s attempt to hide the number of deaths in Covid-19 related to nursing homes – had little impact on the budget process, for the most part Determined by employees and their employees is a constitutional duty to adopt an expenditure plan in good time. But legislative sources and former Cuomo advisers say it’s clear that Democratic lawmakers are steering budget negotiations this year as opposed to the past.

“With that federal revenue and the state revenue backing up pretty well, you have a budget that shouldn’t be that hard to get done on time,” a former Cuomo aide said on condition of anonymity so as not to upset the governor. “So it seems pretty clear to me that the legislature is saying, ‘We’re going to do it that way. “

In recent years, Cuomo has been able to wield considerable power in the legislature by appealing to ordinary members and their political power brokers. But that’s more difficult than ever as large sections of Democrats in both chambers called for his resignation last month.


Typically, to get to the legislators, you would edit their constituency groups and their interest groups, and that would affect the legislators, “said the former official. “But the progressive groups, every single one of them, want them to be gone.”

However, some say the governor – or at least his office – has gone to great lengths in certain areas, such as expanding the spending authority on federal funds and tightening controls on how unemployment could be distributed among undocumented immigrants.

“I know a lot of people who have speculated whether he would be weaker this time, but I saw no signs of it,” said Richard Gottfried, Chairman of the Congregation for Health, the longest serving member of the Chamber.

Even so, Cuomo has fled to friendlier waters in the past few weeks when he shows his face in public and is fully engaged in the craft of narrative revision. He was in his hometown of Queens the previous Monday to announce a public service campaign to promote vaccination. This was part of a downstate tour that visited pop-up vaccination sites in color communities that he had promised months ago to prioritize in the state distribution program. These events, which are mostly closed to reporters, have given him the opportunity to seek public praise – especially from his followers in the Black Community, who thanked him for his follow-up.

On Monday, he received compliments from Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Who last month said Cuomo should step down if it was found he couldn’t run the state effectively. And Queens Congregation member Vivian Cook, who worked on Cuomo’s father’s campaigns and has known the governor since he was a teenager, told the county and state to “thank this son of Queens for making sure of that that we are taken care of “.

“We are proud and we are proud of him. No matter what you say or what you do, we will stay with this man – he will stay with us, ”she said.

Cuomo’s mood during these types of public appearances was almost lively, with things like the arm wrestling challenge from former Yankees thrower CC Sabathia during a cozy event The Yankees and Mets could start their season with fans.

And when his chief attorney and Budgetzar recently attended a webcam question-and-answer session, he publicly teased them because they looked depressed.

“He looks very strict because he’s getting into it – he only has a few days left to work on the budget,” said Cuomo of budget director Robert Mujica, who neither smiled nor answered. “You can see the stress on his face.”

“Business as usual” is an ancient ploy that has occasionally worked for contested politicians patient enough to last a news cycle.

“I think you see the governor trying to focus on the things the public likes and trying to ignore all the things that are possible as much as possible he dislike, ”said Steve Greenberg, spokesman for the Siena College Research Institute.

Although the latest Siena poll showed a decline in his overall favors and re-election prospects, 60 percent of voters approved his handling of the pandemic, and a 48 percent majority said he should continue his work despite the allegations.

But while the Albany budget process is complete, eyes are likely to turn back to the investigation into sexual harassment allegations, Cuomo’s handling of Covid-19 deaths in nursing homes, and new reports that Cuomo has recruited multiple staff to produce his book, Leadership during the pandemic.

The lawmakers and attorneys who lead the congregation’s judiciary impeachment investigation said it could take “months rather than weeks” to compile the results that would initiate the next steps. There is no timeline for Attorney General Tish James’ report, although Cuomo has asked the public to wait for its completion before drawing conclusions about his conduct.

“I think the goal here is to run short of time as much as possible and hope that the Tish James report will be released in the middle of summer when everyone is vaccinated and all that stimulus money comes in,” said another former Cuomo adjutant, also on condition of anonymity.

“He’s in his back pocket [the] I am not running for a fourth term card and the closer we get to June [2022] primarily, the more effective it is, ”said the official. “But I would not underestimate his desire and intention to run for a fourth term.”

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