They called it, "The Big Ugly."
They should call themselves that.
The New York State Legislature slinked out of town Friday morning after voting for an omnibus bill dubbed "The Big Ugly" that lamely combined half-hearted solutions to several important issues, just so everyone could go home for the summer.
Included in the 81-page bill were a four-year extension of New York City's rent controls, a two-year extension of the state property tax cap, a gimmicky tax rebate that will probably be offset by the cost of processing and mailing the checks, and the renewal of a tax break for developers who build apartments for affordable housing. And yes, the bill did give the governor and ex-governors the power to perform weddings. Seriously. This vitally important issue had many state residents on the edges of their seats wondering if it would be included. Thank goodness it was.
The bill was, as usual, negotiated in secret by top government leaders. This year, that included Gov. Andrew Cuomo, new Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. Lawmakers heard about the bill a couple of days earlier and then voted on it late Thursday night. Whether they bothered to read it is inconsequential at this point. All of our local state Assembly members and senators voted for it. But seriously, what else could they do? They weren't going to get anything better.
Sure, a couple of rebel lawmakers stood up to object, making such nuisance points as the fact that the bill doesn't reduce the state’s excessive spending, doesn't do anything to spare New Yorkers the high cost of living, doesn't include any relief from mandates that drive up local property taxes, and doesn't address the plight of underperforming schools like those in Schenectady. But their protests were drowned out by the sounds of briefcases snapping shut and cars squealing out of the capitol parking lot.
The Big Ugly was the perfect name for what was passed overnight Thursday, and it's the perfect metaphor for our state government.
Big Ugly indeed. We can think of a few more appropriate names. But this is a family newspaper.