Entering the back half of his third term amid a pandemic he’s badly mishandled, Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered a truly sad State of the State Address on Monday, full of empty noise and short on serious new ideas.
He kicked off the 45-minute speech with a rehash of his grievances against Team Trump — and rattling of his tin cup for billions in aid from the feds.
“New York is suffering,” he whined, ignoring the fact that much of that suffering is self-inflicted — years of profligate spending and his lockdown diktats that have so slammed the state’s economy.
He admitted, “We simply cannot stay closed until the vaccine hits critical mass. The cost is too high. We will have nothing left to open. We must reopen the economy, but we must do it smartly and safely.” About time — start yesterday, please.
His few policy proposals were neither grand nor detailed. Ideas for getting more people vaccinated are welcome, but why was New York less prepared to get jabs done fast than places like South Dakota and West Virginia?
Surprise: The gov wants to spend big on new infrastructure and transitioning to green energy. That can feed his political operation as donors pay to play, but how is it a wise use of the state’s sparse cash?
Extend the High Line Park to the Moynihan train hall? Nice enough — but let private sources build on the gem they built; save government resources for urgent needs that actually improve commutes.
A Medical Supplies Act to get personal protective equipment made in New York, not China? Nice enough — but better to start facing the host of factors that have driven so much manufacturing of all kinds out of New York, such as the high energy costs that Cuomo in fact aims to make higher still.
Post-pandemic New York faces existential problems, starting with a permanent loss of office jobs. But the gov has no answers there, beyond the federal bailout that is his answer to just about everything.
And never mind that the feds just sent more than $13 billion in aid to New York government in the latest relief bill, according to numbers released by Sen. Chuck Schumer, including nearly $6 billion for schools, over $4 billion for transportation and roughly $2 billion for COVID-fighting.
Nothing on reducing government costs — he actually slapped down calls to reduce the state headcount and freeze public-worker wage hikes scheduled before the pandemic.
Oh, for the Andrew Cuomo of 10 years ago, who upended sacred cows as he brought Albany business as usual to an end. But that end was only temporary; after a decade as governor, Cuomo is just a giant-sized cog in the permanent spending machine.