Cuomo’s ‘disingenuous’ budget critics

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Schwartz with Cuomo. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
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ALBANY—A top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo called progressive criticism of the just-passed budget “very silly" and "short-sighted,” and offered some harsh words for good-government groups upset that the budget compromise disbands a special anti-corruption commission and offers only a limited system of public campaign finance.

“When you grow and you add jobs, it benefits everybody,” Larry Schwartz, Cuomo's secretary, said on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show. "It means additional revenue into the budget, and that revenue gets to be used to spend on programs that help the poor, that help the homeless, that help the working class."

After Working Families Party executive director Dan Cantor questioned Cuomo's budget priorities during a Wednesday interview on MSNBC, Schwartz noted that Cuomo has cut taxes for New Yorkers reporting between $20,000 and $1 million, and enacted a rebate system for New Yorkers with children.

Lehrer asked Schwartz why, though, the dedicated bank tax was eliminated and the corporate rate was cut, maneuvers that Cuomo's financial plan says will cost the state $346 million per year when fully implemented.

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Isn't that a classic case of trickle-down "Reaganomics," Lehrer asked?

“There are reforms to the tax code that corporations and businesses have been asking for for decades, and it's a way to change the optics that New York State is a place that welcomes businesses—not drive business out,” Schwartz replied. “Without a strong economy, you cannot have a strong budget.”

Schwartz also unloaded on good-government advocates, including Susan Lerner of Common Cause, who said Cuomo settled for mere crumbs on public financing of campaigns and was "lockeing in the status quo." Schwartz replied by touting changes to criminal statutes and the creation of a fifth commissioner, responsible for enforcement, at the State Board of Elections.

“I don't know where these critics come from. This is a great budget,” he said. “The people that are criticizing it are the same people who for the last thirty years haven't been able to get anything accomplished. And then when something gets accomplished, they sit there on the sidelines, not on the field, on the sidelines, criticizing the play-calling. I think that's disingenuous and unfair in terms of how great this budget is for New Yorkers.”