On budgetary powers, Cuomo says 'I was elected to manage the government,' mentions extenders
In his current budget proposal, Governor Andrew Cuomo included language that would allow him to transfer money between agencies without the approval of the legislature, and thereby circumvent a check on the governor's powers.
The Times characterized it as "a provocative move in part because New York’s Constitution already gives the governor significant power in deciding how the state spends its money."
It's one of a number of issues that's holding up passage of the budget. This morning, WCNY radio host Susan Arbetter asked the governor why he wants that power and how hard he's planning to fight for it.
The governor construed his request for more authority as merely an attempt to rein in the costs of things like office supplies.
"First, it’s a relatively insignificant matter in the scope of the budget," Cuomo told Arbetter. "It is giving me the authority to interchange costs related to back-office personnel ... Not every agency has to buy its own equipment, buy its own office supplies. Right now in the state, one agency will pay one price for a box of pens, another agency will pay another price for the same box of pens. So we’re trying to consolidate cars, purchasing, etc., put it in one agency. And if we do that, I need the authority to shift the personnel to that agency."
It may be a minor power he's requesting, but it's one the governor is set on getting.
"If they want me to manage the government, I have to have the ability to manage the government," Cuomo said. "And that’s what that is about. I belief that is going to be worked out at the end of the day, and I believe I'll have that flexibility."
Arbetter asked Cuomo if he was willing to narrow the language so as to appease legislative leaders "who think that you're gonna, you know, maybe try to take over the world."
"You know, it’s not a question of appeasement," said Cuomo. "I have a good relationship with the legislative leaders. They’re reasonable. They want me to manage the government. I was elected to manage the government. I need the ability to manage the government. But this issue is more of a Albany-Capitol-corridor issue than a reality, people-based issue."
The governor also reiterated his opposition to including member items in this year's budget, as Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver has requested, and said that while he would like an on-time budget, timeliness takes a back seat to the quality of the budget itself.
"If it’s on time, it’s on time," said Cuomo. "If it’s done with the legislature amicably, it's done amicably. If it’s done through extenders, it’s done through extenders. What’s most important is that it’s a good budget. And then, amicably would be nice, on time would be nice, but it has to work for the people."