The First Six Months: Cuomo’s Top Four Accomplishments

Sarah Laskow | July 1st, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

In the past six months, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has led the state through passing a budget on time, “redesigning” Medicaid, accepting ethics reform, renewing rent regulations, agreeing to a property tax cap and mandate relief, and doubling the number of people in this country who live in a place where same-sex couples can wed. It seems that every political entity in New York State has bowed to the governor’s wishes at some point: Even Mayor Bloomberg, who normally gets what he wants, couldn’t convince Albany that the “last in, first out” teacher hiring policy needed to go.

Over the summer, members of Cuomo’s cabinet will fan out to communities across the state to tout their boss’s accomplishments. But State Room is one step ahead of them! Here’s our list of Cuomo’s top four accomplishments in his first six months.

Convincing New Yorkers He’ll Do What He Promises
Every major initiative that Andrew Cuomo has started on, he’s finished. For months, he focused on the budget, and against all historical odds, it passed on time. The Post’s Fred Dicker criticized him for letting an early opportunity to pass ethics reform — the fall of State Senator Carl Kruger — float on by. But Cuomo passed ethics reforms in his own sweet time.

Cuomo has proven skilled at getting people on board and giving them reasons to work with him. But he’s also made promises that have a decent chance of passing the Republican Senate, the sticking point for any progressive policy he might offer. But instead of fighting with Skelos and his caucus, Cuomo has focused on legislation like the property tax cap that Republicans wanted anyway and that he can argue are good for citizens in a down economy. He also has a knack for avoiding public discussion and debate of knotty problems (*cough* Medicaid *cough*…also mandate relief) by kicking them over to special commissions.

Showed He’s Not Afraid to Barbecue the Democratic Party’s Sacred Cows
Andrew Cuomo has not been a friend to unions. The teachers’ unions got very little, if anything, they wanted out of the budget process. Public employees unions are facing lay-offs and benefit cuts. He’s embraced ideas normally associated with Republicans: the property tax cap, pension reform, streamlining government and mandate relief are all policies that argue that government should be doing less (or at least spending less money).

But in a national field of governors that includes Scott Walker and Chris Christie, who aren’t just Republican governors but blood-red conservatives, even a Democrat who’s been called a Rockefeller Republican can still be talked about as a leading contender in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

Showed He’s not Afraid to Champion Progressive Social Policy
Same-sex marriage didn’t have to pass. It did.

Escaped the Shadows of Spitzer and Cuomo, Sr.
Andrew Cuomo has accomplished at least as much in his first six months as Spitzer did the entire time he was in office. And people still like him! Chatter comparing the current Governor Cuomo to the first one has died down, and our current governor has formed his own identity as a pragmatic get-’er-done leader. The comparison won’t end for good until Andrew Cuomo’s had a chance to get on a campaign plane to New Hampshire (and actually does it), but as far as Albany’s concerned, he’s made his own mark.