Governor Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver held a press conference in the Red Room at the State Capitol to pat themselves on the back for reaching a budget agreement on time for the second straight year. On-time budgets have been approved in Albany just seven times in the last 37 years.
“This state government has come a very long way in a very short period of time. At one time, this state government was a joke. They were literally laughing about it on the late night shows, it was a point of ridicule for many, many years,” Governor Cuomo said. “We went from a model of dysfunction to I believe a model of function.”
Mr. Silver praised the governor for his leadership and said several elements of the budget plan represented the fulfillment of the promise to “rebuild the ladder to financial security long relied on by working families” in a speech before Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address in January. Specifically, Mr. Silver cited increased funding for public education and community colleges, a mortgage foreclosure program, clinics for immigrants, funding for EPIC and affordable housing programs as examples of components of the budget that will help working families. Turning to Mr. Skelos and the governor, Mr. Silver described the budget as a meeting of the minds between the leadership in Albany.
“We have been able to mesh our thoughts with your thoughts and we produced what I think is a great document here,” Mr. Silver said.
Mr. Skelos expanded on Mr. Silver’s remarks to highlight the bipartisan cooperation on the budget. He also praised the lack of tax or fee increases and an “emphasis on private sector job creation.”
“He talked about meshing things together. In the past, it used to be messing things together, but now we are functioning in a very positive way,” Mr. Skelos said. “This truly is historic that we’ve passed two budgets in a row, not just on time, but early, in the daylight, and we are doing this without raising taxes or fees and there is an emphasis on private sector job creation.”
When it was his turn to speak, Governor Cuomo touted several of his preferred initiatives included in the budget, teacher evaluations, pension reform and mandate relief. Overall, Governor Cuomo described the budget as “an example of fiscal discipline and fiscal integrity.”
“This is not a Democratic budget or a Republican budget, this is a budget that put the needs of New Yorkers first,” Governor Cuomo said. “I’m proud to be part of this government today.”
As he started his remarks, Governor Cuomo accidentally referred to Mr. Skelos as the “minority leader.” In a Q&A session after he spoke, Daily News reporter Ken Lovett asked the governor if he really would prefer having the Republicans as a minority in the senate. Governor Cuomo said he’d prefer to save partisan concerns for after the legislative session.
“One of the things that has worked for us is, we’ve kept the politics on the side and we’ve done government work,” Governor Cuomo said. “We’ll continue to do that.”
In another question Mr. Lovett also noted Governor Pataki was “hailed” for cutting spending during his administration. Governor Cuomo said that must mean Mr. Lovett was ready give “multiple hails” to his budget as well.
“Thank you very much, I thank you for your endorsement. It was very nice of you to hail our accomplishment,” Governor Cuomo said.