The leaders of the state legislature will not be attending Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State address, which is set to take place later on in the week.
Mike Whyland, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie told the Post that “The speaker laid out a comprehensive agenda this week on issues like education, reproductive rights and criminal justice reform….so, we have a lot of work to do here in Albany and that is what we will be focusing on.”
The speech fulfills a state constitutional requirement that the Governor must deliver a speech on the State of the State to the legislature.
Governor Cuomo has announced on his own initiative that he will visit two regions per day from Monday through Wednesday in order to deliver the speech to New Yorkers, but State legislators will not be attendance because of prior commitments and because Cuomo will not be delivering the speech in a General assembly hall, as is customary. The speech will instead be a moving tour given to the average New Yorkers.
Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate majority leader John Flanagan noted that the official reason behind the their lack of attendance is that Congressmen such as Flanagan have other commitments.“He will be in Albany, in session, fulfilling his duties as Senate Majority Leader.”
The likely unofficial reason for the State lawmakers refusal to attend is because Cuomo has blocked pay raises of legislators through an official panel. State Legislators have not received pay raises in 17 years, and this is their way of sending the Governor a message. Tension between Cuomo and legislators has been on a steady rise. Last year, assemblyman and ex-black panther, Charles Barron heckled Cuomo during his speech, alleging that he had failed to deliver the $15 billion dollars that the state’s highest court had determined Albany owed New York City schools in the 2003 Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State case. The assemblyman also alleged that Cuomo had failed to provide rental assistance to people living in homeless shelters.
After the controversial decision not to give the legislators a raise had been revealed, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-Suffolk County) referred to it as “water under the bridge” in discussing the legislator’s decision tour He later referred to the inappropriateness of the Governor’s decision in taking his speech on the road. “State of the State should be delivered in the Assembly chamber as it has been done for decades,” said Flanagan.
A number of lawmakers, including the leaders of the Assembly and Senate, said they don’t plan to attend Cuomo’s speeches this week. Other legislators, in a display of how sour the relations are between Cuomo and the Legislature, had already said they would have boycotted the State of the State if he had appeared before the two houses.
A spokesman for the Assembly Republican Leader, Brian Kolb commented on Cuomo’s decision. “He should be addressing the full legislature, the comptroller and the attorney general...he’s made a decision not to do that.”
According to the State constitution, Cuomo is required to give the legislature a statement, irrespective of whether or not he gives a formal speech in front of the two bodies. It is not clear at this point how that will happen, given the manner in which he chooses to give the address
By: Kristina Stukalenko