Despite one of the strangest budget processes in recent memory, New York’s leaders reached an agreement on the budget including major changes on taxes. They also came to a deal on adult use cannabis and mobile sports betting, two complicated and long outstanding issues.
Amidst Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins calls for Cuomo’s resignation and multiple investigations (more on that in a minute) including the Assembly’s ongoing impeachment inquiry—for the time being at least—the possibility exists for Assembly/Senate or even three-way deals on several pieces of standalone legislation before final adjournment of the 2021 State Legislative Session scheduled for June 10th.
Every end of Session is different but the dynamics at play are like no other end of Legislative Session ever. Legislators are actively negotiating with a man they have called on to resign.
Last week, Senator Todd Kaminsky and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins both appeared with Cuomo, raising eyebrows across the State. Afterwards, Kaminsky reiterated that his position on the Governor resigning “has been clear and has not changed.” Stewart-Cousins—despite effusive praise for the Governor at the event in Yonkers—says her position had not changed and reiterated her call for him to resign. The events are a microcosm of the larger dichotomy of negotiating with an Executive Chamber led by a man most legislators have said should not even be there right now.
In the budget process, the Legislature used the chaos to their advantage. Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie finished strong, landing key victories like revenue raisers, and the $2 billion Excluded Workers Fund—all in a process that is normally heavily weighted toward the Executive. This begs the question: will the Legislature again seize on the Governor’s weakened position and pass standalone legislation to force his hand? Or is it just easier for everyone to go home?
Outside the Capitol, the Governor’s emergency powers—despite being heavily reined in by the Legislature—will remain a topic of discussion. As County Executives and other local elected officials push forward with increasingly locally focused reopenings, Cuomo is intent on continuing wield the absolute power given to him by the Legislature as the pandemic began. Squabbles much like the one unfolding in Western New York over the Bills and Sabres vaccine mandates will continue to pop up across the State. How legislators respond—and with whom they side—could also change the shape of the end of session negotiations.
The release of any of the multiple reports, investigations, probes, or disclosure of additional scandals, accusations, or revelations could also change things utterly.
In short, keep a close eye on Albany and on everything going on across the State. While headlines about the Governor’s scandals may signal a stalemate, things will be moving on a vast array of policy areas—from health to energy to labor and employment issues.
As always, do not hesitate to contact the O’Donnell & Associates team with any questions!