Gov. Cuomo Strikes First At NY Special Interests

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made the first strike in the fight over his budget proposal with an attack on the special interests that will try to get the Legislature to block his spending cuts.

In a video address available by e-mail, satellite TV stations and YouTube, Cuomo said Wednesday he won’t be intimidated as past governors have been in the face of multimillion dollar TV campaigns used against them.

“When you pull the curtain in Albany, you find a government working more for the special interests and lobbyists than for the people,” Cuomo states in the five-minute video. “It’s about lobbyists influencing politicians from both sides of the political aisle … we have to stop the cycle.”

The targets are public work unions facing as many as 9,000 layoffs under Cuomo’s plan, teachers unions facing a historic cut in school aid and hospitals facing deep Medicaid cuts. All have successfully blunted similar budget actions by Govs. David Paterson, Eliot Spitzer and George Pataki.

But Cuomo says his proposed cuts, including a 7.3 percent cut to school aid and 10 percent cuts to the public universities and state agencies, will leave a hole of no more than 2 percent to 3 percent in the budgets of schools and agencies that have additional income sources.

He’s already attracting support from a good-government group, state Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long and tea party activists.

In the video, Cuomo announced a long expected pay freeze for state employees, before formal labor contract negotiations begin. The state’s biggest labor contracts expire March 31.

“Know this,” he says directly into the camera, “I will not be intimidated. This is why you elected me and I will get it done. But I need your help to get it done. The real power of the governor comes when the people of the state stand with him … when the voice of the people rings strong and rings true. I need you to make your voice heard now.”

The video on his website invites New Yorkers to sign up for regular e-mails, messages and mailings.

“Political rhetoric doesn’t bother us, that’s perfectly fine,” said Stephen A. Madarasz, spokesman for the Civil Service Employees Association union that has run TV ad campaigns in the past and expects to run more soon. “If we are talking about simply slash and burn and calling it a new approach, we aren’t getting very far forward.”

Madarasz bristles at the portrayal of CSEA as a special interest, a term politicians use to describe groups that oppose their agendas. Cuomo has often referred to supporting groups such as private sector unions and business interests as “stakeholders” although they, too, lobby Albany.

CSEA President Danny Donohue called Cuomo’s proposed budget unfair because it threatens to cut the jobs and benefits of rank-and-file state workers while letting an income tax surcharge on the wealthiest New Yorkers expire, and while not increasing corporate taxes.

“It will mean fewer people on the job maintaining our roads, fewer people keeping our water clean, fewer people making our neighborhoods safer, fewer people providing care to our most vulnerable citizens, fewer people driving our children to school and helping New Yorkers lead healthier lives,” Donohue said.

That will likely be the theme of the TV campaigns against Cuomo’s cuts. But Cuomo has supporters, too, some in odd places for the longtime liberal Democrat.

A group called the Patriot Action Network, a conservative group with tea party supporters, said Cuomo is right on Albany’s budget crisis.

“Gov. Cuomo’s proposed budget forces the issue and the need for these corrections to be addressed. This is a critical reason Patriots and TEA conservatives must support this budget,” states the group, which also seeks to drum up support for Cuomo among its members.

The independent Citizens Budget Commission also supports Cuomo’s plan to curb unsustainable spending in a fiscal crisis, and warns against the opposition that will soon come.

“New York State has avoided confronting these realities for many years,” the commission stated. “It is now well past time to deal with them.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

  • Marc D

    America’s best days were when unions were at their strongest. Alll Americans owe a large debt of gratitude to unions for the sacrifice the men and women made fighting for workers rights, safer job conditions, healthcare benefits, pensions, paid vacations, prevailing wages, and countless other rights all of you I repeat all of you take advantage of today. Why don’t you read a book on US labor history. If it wasn’t for unions this country would have nothing at all that resembles a middle class. It would just be the wealthy and the poor and it is the backwards thinking that is going on today claiming that union workers are too well off that is causing America to be more and more divided. Show some respect to the heart and soul of America, its unionized workforce. We are your neighbors. We are what made America great and we will continue to fight for the rights of all working men and women regardless if they are union or not. We fight for what is right.

    I am a very proud union member.

  • NYC4Life

    So I guess if we privatize all aspects of public life, get rid of unions and let corporations feed us, clothe us and train us….we will be free! What a great idea. Then we can take it a step further and get rid of government alltogether! Get rid of the mayor, governor and federal branches of government and replace them with the top CEO’s of the country and all our problems will be solved! We’ll endure, recessions, ponzei schemes, extended bonuses for upper level management, personel firings based on personal preferences or biases…….wow all this could improve the lives of average Americans and guarantee the American success story!!!! Wow, you anti-union guys have it all figured out! Free America by making it all corporate…..numbnuts…..why dont you just support the people that help run the city and state and make it easy for you to live the life you do… and thank your local, police, firefighters, sanitation and teachers….they keep maintaining whatever civility we have in ourlives! If it was that easy to be any of these professions then why don’t you do it! Thats right, while they work for a living, you dream of cheating some poor suckers of the life savings in wall street. Have a nice day.



    • mak

      What on earth are you trying to say? Go back to school and learn how to use a period.

  • joan

    Thank God someone is standing up to them!

  • Grey Maverick

    What is clear is that unions even with the best of intentions are part of the systematic problem that is draining our economy of all it’s life.

    • Jeff

      Gary, I work for New york state and I am a member of a union. Here is the information you failed to take in account when making your statement. I have worked or New york for twenty three years and have received at least ten 0% raises for the year, I am currently working for the past two years without a raise not even a cost of living raise. We the prison workers of New York State continue to do our jobs and continue to have our pay and jobs targeted. Do you realize that Inmates are paid to be in prison, or that all doctor, dentist, food, heat, and clothing for these inmates are paid for by us tax payers. There is alot of ways to cut cost without taking food out of our families mouths. Why doesn’t Mr Cuomo lead the way by cutting his pay??

      • dr mengle,got twins?

        JEFF..THE TRUTH BE SPOKEN..WANNA SAVE SOME $$$$ GOOD PEOPLE??? SEND THE MURDERS AND RAPISTS AND THE WHITE COLLAR PONZIIE WALL STREET GARBAGE TO IRAQ AND AF-DOPERSTAN..PARAcute them over these glorious waste one month our problems solved…just wait till those muslim terror bozos meet up with our rainbow of collective serious..or would i kid ya?

      • MIKE

        HE ALREADY DID BY 5%

      • Bob Fowler

        Jeff, while it is good to see that you have worked without 10 annual raises, have you had to take a pay cut? Have you lost your premier health insurance? How many vacation days, sick days, holidays have you given back?

        The problem with state union workers is that they keep getting fat, while most of us are getting cut. Here’s a thought Jeff, rather than brag about not getting raises in 10 out of 23 years (don’t mention the retroactive raises that happen after 2 years of negotiations), try to take up your fair share of the disaster that most of us live in. Yeah, that even means that you have to give back a bit. I bet neither you, your family, or your co-workers would die if they had to go one night a week on mac n cheese and hotdogs.

      • Alex

        He have already done it in January-he cut 10% of his salary, it was publicly announced . And there are not a lot of ways to cut expenses. I understand you’re dreaming as everybody: expenses should be definitely cut just not in my field. Why not in your field? Why somebody else has to be laid off just not you?

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