Back in January, the New York Times was speculating on a potential 2020 presidential run by New York governor Andrew Cuomo, and I used the occasion to analyze some of the main programs that Cuomo was putting forward at the time to burnish his "progressive" credentials. Three months later, we have a new state budget in New York, and now it is the New York Post that is speculating about Cuomo 2020. The headline is "Cuomo's liberal budget moves hint at presidential bid."
Gov. Cuomo used the state budget process to go shopping for the liberal credentials he’ll need to run for president, Albany insiders said. As the Assembly on Saturday began passing the bills to implement the state’s late and record-setting $153.1 billion spending plan, Cuomo was already touting his “progressive” largesse.
So here's the big question: for the prospective candidate for the next Democratic presidential nomination, is there any more to the game than just passing out as much as possible of the infinite free money to buy off left-wing interest groups? And the answer -- at least as far as you can tell from following Cuomo -- is, no. Every identifiable new initiative in the state budget is just a handout to one or another of the Democratic Party interest groups. Don't worry, you're not getting any of the loot. From the Post:
Appealing to key left-wing constituencies that could help him in a Democratic presidential primary, the governor poured $163 million into a college-scholarship program; gave a $35 million tax break to workers who pay union dues; created a $10 million immigrant legal defense fund; and renewed the millionaire tax.
And how about a few hundred mil specifically going to big Democratic Party donors and fundraisers:
The budget included other goodies popular with Democratic fund-raisers, including the continuation of $445 million in tax credits for film and television — a move praised by Hollywood donors.
On the business development front, the entire idea seems to be, keep taxes high and hand out some of the money to bribe a few favored businesses to come in. A Post editorial yesterday covers that one under the headline "New York's bribes to businesses are the worst in the nation." The editorial discusses a new report out from the W.E. Upjohn Institute, which has created a data base of state efforts to attract businesses through handouts and subsidies. Conclusion: The subsidies “are not cost-effective,” with “no statistically significant effects.”
Also weighing in is something called the Investigative Post. They are teaming up with a group of newspapers (including the New York Daily News and Albany Times Union) and ProPublica to publish a series of articles on the State of Subsidies in New York. Here's an excerpt from an initial effort in the series that came out on March 26:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sunk a lot of taxpayer money – $25 billion by his estimate – into recharging upstate’s moribund economy. The governor has increased spending on subsidy programs to record levels, launched bold policy initiatives and crisscrossed upstate to announced projects he has frequently described as “game-changers.” “Economic success is shared all across the state. It’s not just New York City that’s doing well, it’s the entire state,” the governor declared in his 2017 State of the State address in Syracuse. That’s the rhetoric. The reality, as borne out by employment data, is decidedly different. Employment upstate has grown by only 2.7 percent during Cuomo’s tenure – compared with 13.1 percent downstate and 11 percent nationally. Four of upstate’s 12 major metropolitan areas have actually lost jobs since Cuomo took office. If it were a state, upstate’s job growth would rank fourth-worst in the nation, below, among others, Mississippi.
How's it going, for example, with the state's plan to jump-start the economy of Buffalo by building a gigantic new factory for the Elon Musk-led SolarCity project? New York taxpayers have sunk about a billion dollars into just this one initiative, and hold essentially all of the downside risk if the project fails. Funny, but I can't find any recent information on the opening of the manufacturing facility, which should be well under way by now. The only article I can find in 2017 is this one from a tech website raising various technical issues that should have been resolved by now.
Don't they have any public policy ideas other than passing out more of the taxpayer money to their friends and supporters? Well, there is the idea on energy, which is to close down everything that works with no workable plan for a replacement. Should we maybe be looking to Jerry Brown instead?