WXXI Local Stories
4:44 pm
Wed May 4, 2011

Cuomo to Embark on Statewide Tour to Push Tax Cap, Ethics Reform

Albany, New York –
Governor Andrew Cuomo says he's headed back to the campaign trail- this time to rally public support for his end of session agenda, including a property tax cap, ethics reform, and gay marriage.

Governor Cuomo, riding on high popularity in the polls, says he'll embark on a statewide tour with "dozens and dozens" of events, including town hall meetings and newspaper editorial board sessions to promote his priorities for the rest of the legislative session. They include a cap on property taxes, ethics reform, and the legalization of gay marriage.

Cuomo did not directly criticize the legislature, which has not yet acted on many of the items on his agenda, and which had adjourned for the week by mid day Wednesday. But, he says simply confining his efforts to the halls of the Capitol won't be enough.

"The biggest part of it, for me, doesn't happen in this building," said Cuomo "It happens at meetings with local groups, and getting the message out."

Cuomo says he will also use his Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy and key cabinet members to help rally support.

The State Senate, led by Republicans, approved Cuomo's bill to impose an across the board 2% property tax cap back on January 31st.
The State Assembly has not approved the governor's plan. Speaker Sheldon Silver says a bill backed by Assembly Democrats is coming, shortly.

"We will introduce a bill on it," said Silver, saying the measure will "achieve affordability and predictability for homeowners and businesses" in the state.

The Speaker says details will come later. And he accused Senate Republicans of not really wanting a tax cap, even though they voted for it, saying so far, the Senate GOP leader, Senator Dean Skelos, has not been willing to modify the tax cap proposal.

"I think he'd like to have the issue," said Silver.

The Senate returned the finger pointing back at the Assembly. In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos says he's "pleased" by Cuomo's plans to tour the state, and welcomes the governor's leadership on the tax cap issue. Senator Skelos says it's the Assembly that's holding things up, and the governor should "demand" that Democrats in that house pass Cuomo's bill.

Cuomo and Assembly Democrats do agree on legalizing gay marriage, supporters are still trying to put together enough votes in the State Senate. And Assembly Speaker Silver has said for weeks now that he concurs with the governor on some key tenets of ethics reform, including the expansion of financial disclosure for lawmakers and an independent investigative body to police all branches of government.

"The governor and I are in virtual agreement on an ethics bill," said Silver.

Cuomo, earlier in the week said, essentially talk is cheap, he's seeking action.

"Performance is results," said Cuomo, who says if the bills don't pass, "explanations" will be due.

Cuomo's tour begins next week, he won't give out exact itinerary until then.

The governor says he does want to negotiate with lawmakers, eventually. And he indicated there is some wiggle room in his own tax cap proposal, saying he's not "deaf to discussion".

With just over six weeks left in the official legislative session, Cuomo describes his public campaign as the "home stretch" and says "this will be the final push".