Duffy Says He Would Be Doing ‘Cartwheels’ If He Were Still Mayor
Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy, who has emerged as the leading defender of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandate relief proposals for struggling upstate cities, told Alan Chartock in an interview to air Friday that he would more than pleased with the pension smoothing proposal if he held his old job as the mayor of Rochester.
The defense comes as Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is openly skeptical of Cuomo plan to allow cities to pay lower rates now on the newly created Tier Six plan against future savings.
The criticism is eyebrow raising, if only because it’s rare for a fellow Democrat to criticize Cuomo. It’s also interesting, considering Miner is Cuomo’s handpicked Democratic Party co-chairwoman and has served as a spokeswoman for upstate Democrats.
But Duffy, who called Miner a “friend and a colleague” said Cuomo’s policies for local governments are working.
“I understand the pressures of city budgets,” Duffy said. “I cut taxes, we increased development, I certainly had issues with a number of mandates and pressures that were being put on me at the time. But I would say this without any hesitation: If I were the mayor today with Governor Cuomo in office, I would be doing cartwheels down the street because he gets it. He is trying to change the structural issues that impact cities across the state. He is committed to upstate economic development. He is committed to the upstate cities as well.”
Duffy told The Post-Standard this week that Miner could always accept a financial control board from the state to manage the city’s fiscal trouble, which led Miner to call that a “false choice.”
In the interview with Chartock, Duffy downplayed the criticism, though he was firm in insisting that Cuomo is doing everything he can on reversing escalating costs for local municipalities.
Duffy noted that Cuomo pushed for the new, less generous pension tier, as well as a Medicaid redesign effort that is aimed at reducing the costliest portion of the state budget.
“These things can’t be turned around, every mandate, over night,” Duffy said. “They haven’t happened over night. This is years and years if not decades of legislative proposals… and down the road cities and counties have had to pay for that. The governor in two years has to me created a path forward and a reversal of the two biggest ones so far. If I were a mayor or a county executive I’d be very happy.”
It makes sense for the Cuomo administration to deploy Duffy as the lead defender of the governor’s local government policies.
He can’t really be called an “attack dog” since he is endlessly upbeat and his resume as a mayor gives him some street cred on the topic.
Reducing mandated spending though is a politically tricky balancing act for a state that doesn’t have a lot of money and a governor who has gone to pains to not seek new tax increases while at the same time has a very active labor movement opposed to more provocative changes.
Duffy noted that Cuomo can’t wave his hand and make the mandates disappear.
“The one thing about mandates is they are not in the purview of the governor to unilaterally just eliminate those,” he said. The Legislature is critical — the Assembly and the Senate. The governor is not kicking the can down the road, he is moving the ball forward.”
The full interview airs Friday at 10:30 p.m.; Saturday at 1 p.m. on WAMC.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on January 24, 2013 at 2:56 pm, and is filed under Bob Duffy. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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