Written by Rachelle Blidner Friday, 08 July 2011 00:00
After signing what he called an “historic” tax cap bill at a residence in Lynbrook on Thursday, June 30, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo spoke to the press with Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-9th district) just outside the Gannon home. One of the main questions on reporters’ minds was how Cuomo feels about the talk of his running for president in the 2016 election. Cuomo said he attributes the chatter to how productive the legislative session was this year and is not focusing his sights on the presidency just yet.
“I think people are surprised at the level of success we’ve had in Albany,” said the 53-year-old Governor, who was born in Queens. “People are reacting to the accomplishments in Albany.”
In the last six months, the New York State Legislature has passed bills on budget, ethics reform and SUNY system reform. Last week, the Governor signed into law the Marriage Equality Act, which grants gays and lesbians the right to marry.
When asked about plans for his political future, Cuomo said he wanted to discuss other topics instead.
“I want to talk about the future of the State of New York,” he said. “I want to talk about what we have to do next year and the work left to do.”
Cuomo said he is going to “work as hard as [he] can” to get his job done, and did not rule out appearing on national news shows to do so.
“I’m patting Dean Skelos on the back here,” Cuomo said. “This was a great group effort and if I feel good, it’s because we did what we said we were going to do.”
While Cuomo said he wanted to discuss the future of the state, the future of hundreds of state workers remains unknown because of unsettled negotiations between the State and labor unions, Cuomo said.
“If we can’t reach an accord, then they would have to be laid off as part of balancing the state budget back in April,” he stated.
While it was rumored that pink slips would be handed out to state employees as soon as Friday, July 1, Cuomo said negotiations with workers are ongoing.
Cuomo said he hopes that the State and the union can reach an agreement like the one reached with Civil Service Employees Association on June 22.
The agreement with CSEA reportedly freezes wages for the 66,000 workers represented by the union, and they will have to take nine unpaid days off between 2011 and 2012. The agreement grants a lump-sum payment of $1,000 to each employee in two payments and repayment for four of the furlough days. Workers must also pay for a larger share of their health care.
In the short press conference, Skelos and Cuomo both said that the legislature worked well together, and the two of them worked well in a partnership.
“We respect each other’s opinions,” Skelos said. “And, at the end, we come to a consensus not as Republican or Democrat, but about doing what’s right for the people.”