Monday, November 08, 2010

Cuomo on a Collision Course With Unions

Things could get very interesting in NYS as incoming Gov. Andrew Cuomo confronts the reality that promises have been made to unions that will bankrupt the state:


Mr. Cuomo has telegraphed a message to those union officials that is both grim and urgent: The state is broke, and the era of gold-plated labor contracts is over.


"There is a crisis," he told union leaders throughout the campaign, according to people involved in the discussions. "You need to rise to the crisis."


…By 2015, state pension costs — which are, by law, set in Albany and underwritten by Democratic and Republican administrations — will exceed $8 billion a year, compared with $2.6 billion last year, according to a state projection. At the same time, New York has promised more than $200 billion worth of health benefits to its retirees but has set aside almost nothing to pay for them.


In short, Mr. Cuomo argues, the public work force is on a collision course with the state's taxpayers. "The salaries you are paying and the benefits you are paying are unsustainable," he said recently. He has even encouraged business leaders to act as a greater counterweight to unions, encouraging them to, of all things, hire more lobbyists.


Perhaps nowhere else in the country, then, has a Democratic candidate for governor taken such a hard rhetorical line against such a potent constituency within his own party. (Across the Hudson River, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey has become a Republican folk hero and an attractive possible candidate for president by excoriating and defying public unions.)


"His policy positions are not aligned with ours," said Richard C. Iannuzzi, president of New York State United Teachers, which declined to endorse Mr. Cuomo.


Cuomo on a Collision Course With Unions



Published: November 3, 2010


It was perhaps the most memorable line from Eliot Spitzer's 2006 campaign for governor of New York, a pithy promise as well as a threat: "Day 1," he declared, "everything changes."

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