Albany – Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo is downplaying expectations for major changes at the state Capitol right away after he takes office Jan. 1.
Without using his name, Cuomo poked a bit at former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who famously vowed before taking office in 2008 that on “day one everything changes.’’
“I’m saying if someone wants to say everything should change on day one I’m going to say, ‘Been there, done that,’’’ Cuomo said in an interview today on WGDJ radio in Albany.
“People expect to see progress and realistic progress. No one informed would say everything is going to change on day one … I expect to achieve progress. That’s what this is all about,’’ Cuomo said.
The governor-elect said his focus during the transition period will be on assembling a team to run the executive branch and its agencies. He said a “big part’’ of the usual transition work has already been done with the publication of several booklets over the past months on a variety of policy matters – which would have to be turned into actual legislation with, in many cases, more details before the Legislature could consider any of them.
“The focus is going to be on the personnel side, and working very hard to attract new talent to state government,’’ Cuomo said. He said part of the problem will be convincing people to come to a state Capitol that has seen a national reputation for its many scandals in recent years.
“That is not an easy sell,’’ Cuomo said.
Cuomo said he is also not going to be rushed into decision-making. “I understand the press’ need to write a story every day … I’m not going to allow that to dictate the pace of government. Government is going to happen in an orderly process.’’
The incoming governor, who regularly railed against the Legislature on the campaign trail, was sounding more positive Thursday. “I believe these politicians really got it this year,’’ he said of the election results. He said voters are demanding a change in attitude in Albany. “They heard that in stereo, and I think they’re going to come to Albany with that recognition,’’ he said of the Legislature.
Cuomo offered no predictions on whether the Senate would flip to Republican following recounts in three battleground races, including an Erie County district now held by Sen. Antoine Thompson.
“Special interests dominate the Legislature. That’s the truth … The question is is it going to be different this year?’’ Cuomo said. He said he believes both parties, no matter who controls the Senate, will come together in the Legislature to back efforts on resolving the rising state deficit and to enact new ethics legislation.
Cuomo said he won’t get involved in leadership fights in the Senate, but said he could “work well with John Sampson.’’ A Brooklyn Democrat, Sampson is the current Democratic Conference Leader; he has been caught up in a scandal over a state contract for a lucrative downstate casino.
-- Tom Precious