High-polling Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo threw his political weight around last week with a published opinion piece touting his legislative agenda — including campaign finance reform, a higher minimum wage, and maintenance of the property tax cap — as the “litmus test” for lawmakers to earn his “support.”
The context, of course, was announcement of a bipartisan “coalition” within the State Senate between the current majority leader, Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), and a half-dozen breakaway Democrats.
A close ally was asked what kind of support the governor meant. “Political support,” the person said. “It means he’ll work with anybody regardless of party who supports passage of his agenda. He will support candidates who support the agenda.”
In other phrasing of interest, Cuomo said current Senate Democratic leaders have “failed to come to a cooperative agreement” with its dissident Independent Democratic Conference — not the other way around, as those current leaders claim. He also criticized the 42-year Senate Republican majority for blocking “progressive” legislation — from 1966 to 2009. Notably, his frequent ally Skelos’ first full session as majority leader began in 2011.
Cuomo’s statements also may signal a shift in emphasis from the fiscal discipline theme of his term’s first half — a theme he said must continue — toward “progressive initiatives” that would “further the social progress we’ve achieved” (in perhaps a sneak preview of next month’s state-of-the-state message). Sensing high-handedness, one observer spoke of trying to picture President Barack Obama issuing a “litmus test” for Congress members.