Cuomo thinks legislators had a 'magnificent' session, but shouldn't stick around when final fracking report is released
12:07 pm Jun. 22, 2012
Governor Andrew Cuomo said lawmakers had "a truly magnificent session" because they passed a teacher evaluation bill and an on-time budget, saying the incumbent legislators from both parties "have an extraordinary record to run on."
"I think they feel good about themselves and what they're doing," said Cuomo, speaking to Fred Dicker this morning. When asked if legislators deserved a pay raise—which they will reportedly grant themselves after the November elections—the Democratic freshman governor said he had "no expectations" that the increase would happen, but did not rule it out.
The main point of Cuomo's remarks was that state government was working and that the lawmakers currently in office deserved credit for it. But there were limits as to the collaboration Cuomo was seeking. When asked when the state Department on Environmental Conservation would release their final report on the safety issues around hydrofracking, Cuomo said "we don't have a hard date but it'll be done shortly. I think it's actually better that we do it when the legislature is not here, because I don't want a political discussion."
He also signaled that he'll keep using his executive power to circumvent the requirement that bills be publicly available for three days before they're voted on.
"I'm not against Messages of Necessity," he said, referring to the maneuver's technical name. "I'm against the overuse of messages of necessity." He did not specify what he considered an overuse. But Cuomo, who served as President Bill Clinton's Housing Secretary and is a talked-about 2016 presidential candidate, pointed to Congress as an example of why rushed votes are needed.
"Any legislative body, you look at how Congress works, why is a budget deal always done in Washington at one o'clock in the morning, sort of suddenly?" Cuomo wondered aloud. "Because on these contentious issues the vote changes all the time. And unless you call the vote when you have it, you'll never get agreement. You will never get agreement. So, at one point, the dialogue has to stop. So, it's naive frankly to believe everything can be accomplished with a three-day waiting period. That just defies knowledge of a legislative body and defies decades of legislative practice."
Cuomo also took a shot at good-government groups who oppose the tactic, saying those groups "deal in ideal theory rather than reality."
In a subsequent interview with The Capitol Press Room, Cuomo explained why he hadn't pushed harder for the state Dream Act legislation, saying "the real Dream Act was passed in Washington." (The Dream Act passed the House in 2010, but stalled in the Senate.)
The state bills, Cuomo said, were more about celebrating immigration than making meaningful changes to immigration law, which can only be done on the federal level.
The state legislation would allow undocumented residents to qualify for the Tuition Assistance Program, which is funded by state taxpayers.
Cuomo was notably silent when Obama announced last week a plan to halt deportations of young illegal aliens with no criminal record. Then, yesterday, in response to a reporter's question, Cuomo said he embraced the idea. "We're all about immigration," he said.
More by this author:
- Thompson explains the success of the Board of Education
- Queens goes for Christine, Melinda and Reshma; Dicker's 'confidential' inquiry