The state legislative session that just ended was so bad it didn’t even produce a “big ugly.”
That last-minute horse-trading that stinks but at least produces some good bills never materialized, as the session in Albany fizzled out in a sea of recrimination. No surprise there. Failure seemed inevitable once Sayville’s Tom Croci fled to the Navy and left the Senate in a 31-31 deadlock between the parties. While lawmakers are loath to act on tough issues in a normal election year, Assembly Democrats who believe their party will win control of the Senate in the fall were willing to wait until the next session in January. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo also seemed content to play the waiting game and declined to fill his usual role of negotiator-mediator-headknocker-in-chief.
Inaction was good in some cases. Sports gambling needs more analysis. Municipalities and school districts that refuse to settle court challenges to right-size power plant assessments should not have a financial cushion if they lose. But some bills — a ban on offshore drilling, gun control measures to protect schoolchildren — merited action. And the legislature did approve some key bills, one for a program to dispose of pharmaceuticals and another that permits a land lease for construction of a new hospital on the Stony Brook Southampton campus.
Generally, dysfunction reigned, especially when the Assembly and Senate couldn’t agree to reauthorize a New York City school-zone speed-camera program that all agree reduces accidents. It expires June 30.
We’d argue Cuomo should call legislators back to Albany after next week’s congressional primaries to finish business, but what will have changed? Content to thrash about in their mutual dysfunction, the parties deserve each other. But the state deserves better.