Cuomo Lavishes Praise on Legislature He Vows to Change

Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks to a business crowd on Wall Street (Photo: Will Bredderman).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo talks to a business crowd on Wall Street (Photo: Will Bredderman).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared at a Wall Street press conference today that New York’s legislature was the best it had been in four decades–even as he reiterated his vow to help the Democrats take over the State Senate.

Shortly after accepting an “Outstanding Achievement in State Tax Reform” award from the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation–which Mr. Cuomo’s Secretary Larry Schwartz once called a “right-wing think tank” that manipulated data–the governor lavished praise on the current state legislature, which he credited with helping move New York State up in the Foundation’s corporate tax rankings from number 25 to number four out of all 50 states. The Foundation cited the simplification and streamlining of the tax code during Mr. Cuomo’s tenure as the reason for the prize and the upgrade–noting that the only states currently ranked higher than New York have no corporate taxes at all.

“It was the New York State legislature that passed four budgets on time, and they haven’t done that in 40 years,” said Mr. Cuomo, noting those budgets included the tax reductions and reforms that earned the state’s increased rating. “We have the most competent government in 40 years. Our government is running better than it has in decades and decades.”

Mr. Cuomo continued, noting that the most recent jobs report show that New York added 511,000 new positions, bringing the unemployment rate to 6.2 percent–the lowest since the recession began in 2008.

“Economically we’re having great news,” he said. “Basically this state is headed in the right direction.”

The governor has enjoyed a good relationship with Senate Republican Co-Majority Leader Dean Skelos and with Co-Majority Leader Jeffrey Klein of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference–which together have denied the mainline Democratic conference control of the body. Mr. Cuomo, however, promised to work for a Democratic State Senate in order to secure the endorsement of the Working Families Party and he brokered the tentative reunion of the two Democratic caucuses earlier this year.

The governor today reiterated the vow to help get members of his own party elected to the Senate even as he pointed to poll data showing one of the Democratic conference’s chief goals–taxpayer-financed elections–is unpopular among New Yorkers.

“We need to elect legislators who support public finance, that’s why it didn’t pass last time, that’s what I’m working to do these legislative elections. But it’s also communicating to the public at large, because the public at large doesn’t support public finance. It’s not that these legislators are totally disconnected from reality. The problem is that legislators are reflecting reality. And the people of the state don’t support public finance,” Mr. Cuomo said. “So we have to convince the people of the state first, we then have to elect legislators who support public finance, and that’s how we’re going to get it done. And I’m working very hard to do that.”

Mr. Cuomo also defended his acceptance of the Tax Foundation’s award despite Mr. Schwartz’s statement.

“There is no doubt that they are a conservative organization, there’s no doubt that they have, that they bring their philosophy to bear in making the determination. But we did bring down the tax rate,” he said.

Cuomo Lavishes Praise on Legislature He Vows to Change