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Dan Collins

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Andrew Cuomo Engineers Another Deal

Posted: 03/15/2012 1:39 pm

Andrew Cuomo has struck another bargain. Why isn't this man running the negotiations in the Middle East?

Take a close look at the mega-agreement the governor and the legislature reached this week and you'll see why big political compromises are so hard to get done these days. There's actually nothing all that earthshaking except the fact that there's an agreement.

Take the new pension system for future public employees. The headline change is a hike in retirement age from 62 to 63. Also, the state will set up a comprehensive system for keeping track of the DNA of people convicted of crimes. In addition, the governor and the legislature have started the state down the road toward the creation of up to seven new gambling casinos.

In return, Cuomo has agreed to let the state legislators have the new district boundaries they drew for themselves. This is something he promised not to do during his campaign. But to be honest, reform of the redistricting process has never been high on voter wish lists.

It's hard to imagine a candidate promising: "If elected I'll threaten to reform the lawmakers' precious line-drawing powers, but then back down in return for modest pension reforms."

But as somebody's father once said, you campaign in poetry, then govern in prose.

And it's all good. Cuomo has an agreement for improving the redistricting process after the 2020 census. (For the legislature, this would come under the "In the long run, we are all dead" theory of government.) The pension reforms will save the state and cities billions of dollars over the long run.

That said, the legislature's redistricting plan is the usual political train wreck. The crown jewel is the creation of an additional state Senate seat intended to keep the GOP in control of the upper chamber. Another state senator is something we need about as much as "more flooding" or "the return of Carl Paladino as a gubernatorial candidate."

Mainly, though, it's more of the same. The lines for the Assembly are drawn so that incumbent state representatives have job security on a par with the North Korean People's Assembly. The lines for the Senate are drawn to keep the Republicans in control, even though the state is overwhelmingly Democratic.

Strange, isn't it, that our Democratic governor and Democratic Assembly were so willing to see the Senate stay in the opposition's hands? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the one time the Democrats took control in the upper chamber, the result looked like a combination of the Greek parliament and a soccer game riot.

So let's be thankful for modest gains and a measure of sanity in Albany.