In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the song “Happy days are here again!” in his successful presidential campaign. The lyrics evoke both the optimism and buoyancy that was badly needed during the Depression years to restore confidence in government planning and policy.
In a press release issued on June 24, Gov. Andrew Cuomo also accentuated the positive, announcing “progress on historic initiatives, action on issues that have been left unresolved for decades, and a legislative session that has delivered results.” He also applauded both house leaders and members of the Legislature for passing these unprecedented reforms.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, for his part, said he was also “extremely proud of the many accomplishments the past several weeks have brought” and cited the passage of measures that will “create jobs, bring needed tax relief to homeowners and businesses, reduce the regulatory burden facing local governments, enable our state universities to grow and our students excel, and improve the process for creating more clean, reliable and affordable energy.”
Last, but certainly not least, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stated: “This has been a singularly productive session for the people of New York. On major issues which in the past have been stalled, we have settled our differences without compromising principles.”
I’m not quite sure we should all be enamored of what we are reading, or observing and, indeed, the bloom may already be starting to come off the rose.
Cuomo, in a New York Times column published on July 14, said he was “heartened by the accomplishments of his first six months — particularly the passage of a property-tax cap and the legalization of same-sex marriage — in a state capital divided by party and infamous for corruption and dysfunction.” But he attributed his legislative success to “a set of reasons that I don’t know are necessarily replicable.” He also highlighted his inability to limit retirement benefits for new state workers — the very point I made in my column “As promised: keeping tabs,” (June 30-July 6).
Once again we are dealing with perceptions. Will principles no longer be compromised as suggested by Sheldon Silver? Will Dean Skelos’s lofty pronouncements be realized? Have my concerns (documented in 17 columns) been mollified with the passage of time and newly inspired leadership? Are we witnessing a transformation in state politics and operations that will lead to a path of fiscal stability?
Help me sort this all out. You be the judge.