The substance of the tax deal between Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders isn’t the only point of contention–good government groups are decrying what they see as a flawed process which created it.
“The process by which the deal was struck is a continuation of the backdoor-deal making that has defined Albany culture,” said Susan Lerner of Common Cause, Barbara Bartoletti of the League of Women Voters of New York and Russ Haven NYPIRG in a joint statement. “It is important that the people’s business – particularly policies that will directly impact the taxpayers and the economic health of this state – be conducted in the open.”
Although it is hard to argue on the facts of their case, the strong leader system of Albany–commonly known as three men in a room–has been a feature of how business gets done in the statehouse for some time.
Also, it is worth noting that the good government groups are aligned in this instance with the only pro-business group (that we know of) to come out against the deal–New Yorkers for Growth, who in a statement also called for open legislative hearings.
Added the trio:
The public should have an opportunity to learn of, and comment on, such important fiscal and policy matters, not simply be informed after the fact. Matters of this magnitude should not be decided in secret, during the legislative hiatus and without a formal process. Each of these important issues should be the subject of hearings and public discussions, with sufficient time for the public to understand and comment on what may be proposed or under consideration. These concerns are underscored as these issues have not been the subject of recent hearings and the substance of today’s announcement has not been previously vetted through the formal legislative process. Accordingly, the tax code should not be hustled through a special session, where these crucial matters are debated in closed conferences and then voted on the next day.
We hope the Legislative Leaders and the Governor will employ the tenets of open democracy in future proceedings.