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Issues Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo may take on in next term

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks as supporters gather in

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks as supporters gather in Manhattan after the polls close on Election Day Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. Photo Credit: Craig Ruttle

The question whispered around the halls of the Capitol these days about the coming legislative session is: How will Andrew M. Cuomo 2.0 operate?

The governor, who has alternated as a social progressive and fiscal conservative in his first term, gave few hints during his re-election campaign as to how he will lead New York beginning in January.

For most of the campaign he refused to put his second-term proposals in print, after producing seven volumes of promises and pledges in his 2010 campaign.

Twelve days before this Election Day, he relented. But that new policy book used the word "continue" -- as in continue existing initiatives -- 72 times in 245 pages. The online book was small on detail.

There are hints of things to come.

Last week, Cuomo said he would revamp the state's criminal justice system after a Staten Island grand jury's decision not to charge a New York City police officer in the death by an apparent chokehold of Eric Garner. The grand jury decision came days after another "no bill" from a Missouri grand jury in the police shooting death of Michael Brown.

It's the kind of bedrock Democratic issue Cuomo savors, as with his legalization of gay marriage in 2011, and at which he excels. And it comes at a time when governors traditionally scramble to come up with a new, big idea for their State of the State speeches in January.

The effort may attract national headlines as he begins what supporters hope will be the beginning of a run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

Cuomo also may attract national attention by traveling for his "Global NY" trade program. Deal-making is one of his biggest strengths, and foreign affairs experience is one of his needs if he is to be a presidential contender.

That out-of-state travel would put Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in the governor's seat for long stretches and start to put the former Buffalo congresswoman in line to potentially become New York's first female governor. That would be another big Cuomo win.

But back in Albany, Cuomo will have to negotiate with the State Legislature over $5 billion in extra revenue, mostly from bank and regulatory enforcement settlements, in the 2015-16 state budget. That should make 2015 easier, right?

Wrong. One thing about Albany: The biggest fights aren't in hard times, when resources are scarce, but in good times.

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