The great football coach Bill Parcells once said, “You are what your record says you are.”
That applies to politics as well as to sports.
And no matter how much Gov. Andrew Cuomo touts his accomplishments over the past eight years, no matter what attempts he made earlier in his tenure to rein in taxes, improve the state’s business climate and move the state progressively forward on such issues as same-sex marriage and gun control, he can’t hide behind what the record says we are.
And that record — in many key categories in which the governor has significant sway over state policy, such as tax burden, the economy, quality of education and migration of residents to other states — is abysmal.
TIME FOR NEW DIRECTION
Despite some early successes, the governor has done little to improve New York’s record in the past few years, and he seems to have no other reason to seek re-election than to maintain a prominent perch for a possible presidential run in 2020.
We New Yorkers deserve better than that. We deserve a governor with a plan to energize the state. Someone willing to fix the problems that have grown weeds in the past few years. To have as our governor someone with the courage and conviction to improve our tax situation, address corruption, improve transparency in government and relieve the regulatory and financial burden on businesses.
Maybe once upon a time, that person was our current governor. But no more.
The person we need leading the state is Republican candidate Marc Molinaro.
The current Dutchess County executive is a former village mayor (first elected at age 19), county legislator and state assemblyman who has the experience, energy and plans to move the state forward. He’s had success at every level of service, including helping close an inherited budget gap in his county and turn it into a surplus.
He’s got a plan to provide mandate relief to local counties by setting up a panel to review state mandates and identify savings. He would have the state take over the local share of Medicaid costs to relieve local property taxes. That changeover would take place over 10 years, in conjunction with attempts to reduce the overall cost of the program, so as to lessen the annual impact on the state budget.
He’s against Cuomo’s largely unsuccessful approach to economic development, which involves cutting checks to big companies. Instead, he supports more reasonable efforts that relieve businesses of unnecessary tax and regulatory burdens.
His plan to fix the Metropolitan Transit Authority, which runs New York City’s transit system and to which all New Yorkers contribute, involves cutting fraud and waste, something Cuomo has been reluctant to fully embrace.
And don’t let the fact that he’s a Republican dissuade you from voting for him based on his association with President Donald Trump. Molinaro says he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, but supports some of Trump’s initiatives such as the tax cut. But he has departed from Trump on immigration and some of his more divisive rhetoric. Like Trump or not, the state needs to at least have a working relationship with the president, something we trust Molinaro will try to nurture. Cuomo has done nothing in the past two years but antagonize Trump, perhaps to the detriment of state residents.
Molinaro also promises to address that corruption that has thrived under Cuomo. His plan includes reinstating the Moreland Commission; creating an independent ethics commission; eliminating “pay-to-play,” which gives people willing to pay the most money the ability to influence legislation and state contracts; enacting a universal code of ethics that includes sexual harassment; and setting term limits on main statewide office-holders.
All politicians make promises. And Molinaro’s projections for reducing property taxes by nearly 30 percent over time does seem a tad unrealistic. But wouldn’t you rather have someone have that as a goal to strive for, rather than have major tax relief dismissed as a “sham,” as Cuomo has done?
While Gov. Cuomo enjoys a big lead in the polls over Molinaro and three independent challengers, there’s been nothing magical or transformational about his two terms in office.
New York state isn’t all that bad of course, as many of us can attest. But Ronald Reagan once asked, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” For many New York citizens and businesses, the answer is no.
His big economic initiatives like Start-Up NY haven’t come close to living up to the promises. His major initiative to control taxes — the property tax cap — has been effective in holding the line on local property taxes. But it was passed seven years ago, and yet New Yorkers still rank among the highest-taxed residents in the country.
Under Cuomo’s leadership, state government is considered by many to be the most corrupt in the country. The governor has failed to throw his weight behind significant reforms such as campaign finance and lobbying reform, transparency and accountability, and other measures to limit or prevent big-money influences in state government. New York City’s mass-transit system is a mess, even though the governor has significant control over the authority that runs it.
Worse yet, the governor seems to be resting on his laurels.
Despite wielding enormous power and influence over state legislation as one of the “three men in a room” who effectively control all legislation in the state, the governor abdicated the throne this year, declaring with almost two months left in the 2018 legislative session that ”no significant legislation currently has the chance of moving.” Instead of pushing for anti-corruption legislation like closing the LLC loophole and lobbying reform, he let lawmakers off the hook. Instead of using his clout to get justice for victims of sexual abuse, he decided to wait until next year. He had a chance to improve transparency in government contracts to prevent the kind of conduct that led to criminal convictions within his own economic development programs, but decided not to push lawmakers on it.
This year’s election for governor is not about New York’s past. It’s about New York’s future.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was effective at one time. But what has he done for us lately? Just look at the record.
New York is overdue for a change at the top.
It needs Marc Molinaro as governor.