Skip to comments.Cuomo the Conservative - Believe it. (At least fiscally, who knew?)
Posted on 02/02/2011 8:02:23 PM PST by neverdem
Cuomo the Conservative
Looking for a tax-cutting, budget-slashing, fiscally conservative governor? How about Andrew Cuomo? Yes, that Andrew Cuomo.
With the possible exceptions of California and Illinois, no state is facing as big an economic mess as New York. Years of profligate spending and crushing taxes have left the state with a $10 billion budget shortfall. The conventional wisdom said that despite having the nation’s highest tax burden, and what Cuomo has called the “worst business climate in the country,” New York would have no choice but to hike taxes yet again. That is, after all, the path that Illinois just chose, raising its state income tax by 75 percent.
Cuomo rejected that approach, early, often, and loudly. He vowed to balance the state’s budget without borrowing and without raising taxes.
“The old way of solving the problem was continuing to raise taxes on people, and we just can’t do that anymore. The working families of New York cannot afford tax increases. The answer is going to have to be that we’re going to have to reduce government spending,” Cuomo declared.
In fact, Cuomo didn’t just rule out tax increases, he actually called for tax cuts. Already he has pushed through the state senate a bill establishing one of the nation’s strongest caps on property taxes. For New York businesses and homeowners, this is a long overdue move. Nationally, the median annual property tax is $1,917. In some New York counties, the average property-tax bill exceeds $9,000.
Cuomo’s proposal, modeled after nearby Massachusetts’s successful Proposition 2½, would limit property-tax increases to no more than 2 percent or 120 percent of the inflation rate, whichever is lower. Significantly, it does not include traditional loopholes for things like government employees’ health-insurance premiums or pensions. It would also eliminate the practice of localities’ voting separately to approve school budgets without regard to their impact on taxes. And most important, the bill would require a 60 percent supermajority for voters to override the cap, ensuring that taxes would only be raised for genuine emergencies or the most worthwhile projects.
Cuomo also has announced that he will allow the state’s “temporary” income-tax surcharge on the wealthy to expire as scheduled at the end of this year. That has outraged liberal groups, unions, and the New York Times, but Cuomo responds by warning that high taxes are a job-killer and would “just prolong the recessionary conditions in the state.”
Of course, tax-cutting is always easier than budget-cutting — as Congress has shown in recent years — but Cuomo also seems serious about controlling state spending. In fact, Cuomo sounds almost Reaganesque, declaring flatly, “The state spends too much money.”
Almost immediately, he imposed a freeze on salaries for state workers. While that move was more symbolism than substance, it was important symbolism. Public-employee unions have been some of the state’s most powerful special interests. Since 2007, while most Americans have been struggling, New York public employees have seen their wages and benefits go up by 13 percent. Beyond the symbolism, Cuomo’s freeze will save taxpayers $200 million this year. Cuomo is also set to cut the size of the state bureaucracy. His 2011 budget, released yesterday, calls for a reduction in the state work force of some 15,000 people, slightly more than 7 percent of the state’s 200,000 employees. And he cut his own office’s budget by 25 percent.
Overall, Cuomo’s budget represents the first proposed year-to-year drop in state spending since the mid 1990s. Everything is on the table, from prison construction to state aid to New York City.
Cuomo also appears ready to go after the sacred cows of state spending: education and health care. He has pledged to eliminate state budget rules that lock in annual increases to educational programs and Medicaid — a 13 percent hike this year. But beyond doing away with the automatic $8 billion hike built into the budget formulas, Cuomo plans real cuts as well. His budget would cut Medicaid spending by $3 billion.
He would also shave nearly $1 billion from state education spending. And Cuomo has made it clear that he was talking about actual cuts, not just the traditional game of decreases in the rate of increase.
The proposed cuts have engendered the usual howls of outrage that it will lead to fired teachers, overcrowded classrooms, and sick people dying in the street. In response, Cuomo notes that New York spends more per pupil on education and more per enrollee on Medicaid than nearly any other state, yet has little to show for the money.
Andrew Cuomo apparently understands that the secret to economic growth is a smaller, less expensive government. It’s an approach that some of his fellow Democrats in Washington — including the White House — could learn a lot from.
— Michael Tanner is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and author of Leviathan on the Right: How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution.
Cuomo has no choice cut taxes and spending or go bankrupt.
checking the treetops for pork ...
His goal is to be president someday. He has to act like a conservative to even be considered. In this way of thinking, if he can turn the economic tide in New York, he can turn the economic tidal wave in the US.
I live in nys and so far he seems to be modeling himself after christie.
Andrew Cuomo is not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he's turning out to be far shrewder than his "brilliant" father.
He's clearly angling for something bigger.
Its rare to see a Democrat embrace a small government approach. Andrew Cuomo represents the antithesis of his father’s thinking that Big Government is always better and you can’t have too much of it.
That’s the problem New York has. If a Democrat can embrace common sense in a Deep Blue State, there’s hope for the rest of America!
I hope Gov. Cuomo is successful in implementing all of these cuts.
But when they vote in RINOS (the only Republicans with a chance of winning in those states), they can blame everything on Republicans opposing spending.
Here's a question. When a RINO goes up for re-election Democrats will successfully call them phonies for going along with them on tax increases after they successfully trap them in a corner.(MD Dem Gov O Malley won big in this the past election, as did Clinton beat Bush in 1992 using this strategy.)
But when liberals get themselves in this trap and are forced into unpopular spending cuts, why don't Republicans attack Democrats for it?
This is a case where the DemocRAT had no other choice.
“His goal is to be president someday. He has to act like a conservative to even be considered. In this way of thinking, if he can turn the economic tide in New York, he can turn the economic tidal wave in the US.”
But he has to be more than a fiscal conservative to get my vote.
He's clearly angling for something bigger.
Daddy wants him in the place he could not attain himself.
I see him running for President in 2020. He’ll want two terms under his belt first.
He took a leaf straight from Steve Levy’s playbook: He told the public employee unions that if they didn’t give him the concessions he asked for he would fire 10,000 of them. It worked for Levy, so maybe it will work for Cuomo.
Whatever his future ambitions, I give him kudos for taking these bold moves in a deep-blue state such as NY. And, quite possibly, he has been watching his neighbor, Chris Christie, and taken a page out of his playbook.
Whatever, if he is positioning himself for higher office or not, the people of NY deserve a break, and kudos to him if he implements his plans. Maybe, just maybe, he cares about his state and the mess its in.
This is the same guy who, while in Clinton’s cabinet, went around the country like Johnny Appleseed tossing billions of tax dollars down the toilet to fight “homelessness”? I’ll believe Cuomo’s big talk when I actually see big cuts, and not a second before.
Actually, Cuomo did have a choice: he could have followed the Pat Quinn playbook and raised taxes, thereby sinking the economy further; Senate Republicans would have probably gone along if the price was right.
If he wants to be POTUS one day and is smart enough to figure out that to get there he has to be conservative, and if en route that means turning around the economy of NYS, and in the process takes on the state worker unions, then we should celebrate his ambition. I’m not even from NY, but for this I’m cheering him on.
What tax cuts? He plans a tax cap at 2%... Where are the tax cuts?
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.