Albany

The capital of the Empire State, the place where all the good stuff happens...

Leading the state is our Sonofa Gov, Andrew Cuomo, who has been in office since 2011. He handily won re-election in last November for a third term. To date, he's been denying any potential run for president in 2020, but you never know on that. 

Why Sonofa Gov? Mario Cuomo, his father, ran the show in Albany for three terms back in the 80s and 90s; it's also more polite than calling him a son-of-a-something-else, which is the opinion many have of the current Cuomo. He's the last of the Three Amigos still standing; the other two, Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver, were both indicted and convicted on ethics-related charges, with former US Attorney Preet Bharara leading the charge.

The subject of ethics just won't go away.  We have JCOPE, NY's public ethics commission, which doesn't have a lot of teeth. We have the defunct Moreland Commission, set up and abruptly cancelled by the Sonofa Gov. You can see posts on that group here. And, we have Cuomo trying to beat the legislature into submission by interjecting ethics changes into every possible discussion, including budget negotiations. His sincerity on ethics is questioned; he takes full advantage of the provisions he supposedly wants to get rid of, and will do so right up to the very last second, I'm sure.

Democrats control the State Assembly, which is perceived by many as being all about New York City. And, for the first time in a while, they also hold the State Senate, haven taken control in the 2018 election. The Senate had long been perceived as the last bastion of hope for anything related to part of the state outside NYC, so this will be interesting. It remains to be seen whether we'll have any of the legislative successes, such as the plan for increasing the minimum wage across the state, now that the Dems have total control.

We have had mostly on-time budgets under Cuomo's leadership, something we didn't always see in the past. The process still follows the old 'three men in a room' or Three Amigos process, where the Gov, the Senate Majority Leader and the Assembly Speaker sit down, smack each other around outside the presence of their respective teams, and come to agreement on what will be put forward.  This year, there will be a woman in the room - Andrea Stewart-Cousins assumes the Senate Majority Leader role as a result of the election swing.

The outcomes of  the back-room arm-twisting usually surface in the waning hours of March, if we're talking about the budget, or in the last days of May or very early June, when the legislative session comes to a close with a flurry of bill-passing, back-slapping, and press conferences. Here's a 2006 description of the process, which the author referred to as Triopoly. While the names have changed in the past decade, much remains the same.

Economic development, taxes, a shrinking population, expansive (and expensive) social programs, sluggish middle income growth, and yes - again - the blue/red divide - are among the issues we face, and for which we look to Albany to either take the lead or get out of the way.

I hope to expand discussion what's going on in Albany, through the Meanwhile Back in Albany (MBIA) post theme. Posts from previous years can be found using keywords Andrew Cuomo, Albany, and Ethics, among others. 

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