On Thursday afternoon, Gov. Andrew Cuomo scheduled a last-minute press conference in the Red Room to defend what didn’t get done before lawmakers (possibly) left Albany until 2018. Skilled politician that he is, Cuomo had an answer for everything – namely, that it wasn't his fault. Here are the top five responses he had for reporters.
1. The New York Times’ Jesse McKinley asked if the governor takes any responsibly for the lack of deal on mayoral control.
Cuomo: “The Republicans support mayoral control and charter schools. Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg was a big supporter of charter schools and they supported mayoral control with Mayor Bloomberg, but charter schools was a very big piece. For them, it’s a very different equation supporting it with Mayor (Bill) de Blasio, who is an avowed opponent of charter schools. So that is fundamentally different. In the Assembly, yes, they favor mayoral control, but it is mixed. I spoke to quite a few members who don’t support mayoral control.”
2. The Daily News’ Ken Lovett asked, if the MTA has been such a huge concern for the governor, why hasn’t it been an issue until literally the last week of session?
Cuomo: “It has been an issue. When a bill goes in it has nothing to do with the reality of the situation. I’ve been talking about the contribution and the lack of contribution by New York City for years. I said when we did the capital plan – I was insistent that they put up its fair share.”
(Cuomo was then told that the mayor said it’s clear that Cuomo is in charge of the MTA, board majority or no, and when the system was shut down during a snowstorm earlier this year, Cuomo was the one who took credit.)
Cuomo: “It’s also clear he’s wrong and can’t count. The decision to close the MTA during the snowstorm was made by the professional who was running the MTA, Tom Prendergast. I have six seats out of 14. Do the math. That’s not a majority. … I don’t want to be in a situation that I have the responsibility, but don’t have the authority.”
3. Gannett Albany’s Jon Campbell asked about the bill the governor introduced about 9 p.m. Wednesday to rename the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement after his late father, Mario Cuomo. Campbell asked why that was the appropriate time to take the matter up, given the intense public interest in the Hudson Valley about what the bridge will be named.
Cuomo: “(Assemblyman) Denny (Farrell) mentioned it. I thought it was a good idea, (though) at the same time I think we should name something after Denny Farrell. I think we should name something for Sen. (Bill) Larkin. … These are both great, talented public officials and they gave more than half their life to this service. It should be acknowledged and it should be celebrated. … My father, a Democrat, you can agree with him, you can disagree with him, but I think overwhelmingly people would say he was a great public official – and by the way, that bill passed in the Senate unanimously. I can’t remember the last time a bill passed in the Senate unanimously.
4. City & State’s Ashley Hupfl noted that when Albany is working on time, Cuomo takes credit for it being functional – but now it seems he’s blaming the Legislature when they can’t come to a deal. What’s changed?
Cuomo: “For many, many years, deadlines came and went and no one paid attention. Our track record for getting budgets done on time is the best track record in modern political history. You have to go back about 50 years to find better performance on getting the budget done on time. There are some issues that you are just unwilling to compromise. … It would be silly to say, we’re going to be here and work out every issue, no matter how complicated. We had a tremendously productive session. We didn’t agree on majority control for the MTA, we didn’t agree on New York City legislatively forcing them to pay their share of the MTA, we didn’t agree on mayoral control, we didn’t agree on the Child Victims Act, but those issues we will keep working on.”
5. Another reporter asked Cuomo for his thoughts on the federal GOP health care bill, the Faso/Collins amendment and how it would affect New York.
Cuomo: “It would be devastating. I’ve spoken about it a number of times. It would cost the state about $2 billion.”