The legislative package snuck in under the wire with its passage at 11:55 p.m. on June 25, just in time for legislators to get in a much-needed summer break and a chance to kick back and relax after not really getting a whole lot accomplished.
You know it's pretty bad when the package of bills that elected officials took action on is almost immediately given the nickname “The Big Ugly.” There was one time a staffer here at the Pol Position Action Desk did something that we all collectively referred to as “The Big Ugly” from that point on, and it was...come to think of it, we don't really want to talk about it.
You have Governor Andrew Cuomo's take on the whole legislative session, which was not unsurprisingly positive. He certainly has to look at the glass half-full, as he is the face of Albany and the one tasked with keeping things moving.
In his statement, Cuomo touted his “bold vision” for New York and the work that was accomplished to deliver on those promises, with nary a mention of all of the important issues the legislature didn't really act on, like strengthening rent regulations and giving meaningful control of the city's schools to the mayor.
“As the 2015 legislative session draws to a close, I want to simply say thank you,” Cuomo wrote. “Each and every day, I am humbled by the passion, dedication, and vision of the people of New York.”
You're welcome governor!
The take of the state's top executive was much sunnier than State Senator Daniel Squadron's, whose email subject head simply stated, “Just When You Thought Albany Couldn't Get Worse...” in all caps.
“Just when it seemed Albany couldn't get worse, it did,” his email began. “This year's legislative session has just ended. I'm sorry to say, there's a lot to be frustrated and disappointed about.”
Squadron lamented that the legislature failed to close the “LLC Loophole” which allows anonymous donors to contribute nearly limitless dollars to candidates, failure to pass the LICH Act to establish procedures for closing hospitals, and the lack of any meaningful strengthening of the rent laws.
We guess it really depends on who you ask when it come to state politics.
And then there's our progressive mayor, Bill de Blasio. He worked hard to defeat Republicans in the State Senate in the last election cycle, and boy oh boy did he pay for it.
Senate Republicans, for no clear reason, voted to extend mayoral control of the school system for just one more year, despite the fact that advocates across the education spectrum and New York City Republicans all support it and agree that it is a much better system than the old Board of Education.
We guess they are going to miss de Blasio over their break, and want to see him back up in Albany groveling again next year for the same courtesy Bloomberg was extended for his total time in office.
And there was the big issue that divided everyone and became a political hot potato, the 421-a program. In his continued effort to stick it to de Blasio, the governor stalled and blocked the mayor's plan to overhaul the lucrative real estate tax break program.
Many Albany insiders noted that anonymous quotes from a Cuomo aide printed last week suspiciously mimicked the governor's tendency to ask himself questions and then answer them, and showed how he really feels about his old friend Bill.
“He is more politically oriented in terms of his approach...and then he makes it almost impossible for him to achieve success,” the “Cuomo official” said in the Daily News. “How did the mayor think he was going to get mayoral control? ‘Well the Assembly will support me.’ They didn’t. I think he puts himself in these situations.”
And in keeping with our theme that it all depends on your personal outlook how things are going, even though in the eyes of nearly every partial observer the governor blocked and stalled any effort on the part of the mayor at reforming the 421-a program, the mayor hailed “real progress” on the issue.
“You know, we had often heard it would not be possible to handle it in this session, we believed it was doable in this session,” the mayor was quoted as saying. “Lo and behold, it got done.”