As the state task force that will draw new legislative district lines held a public hearing in Albany today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked if there were any circumstances under which he would approve the panel’s final product. The short answer: Still no.
“I have said from Day 1 that I believe the redistricting lines should be the product of an independent process and should not be partisan. I don’t think I could have been clearer on that from Day 1. I said it in the campaign, I wrote it in a book, I said it in speeches and I have repeated it since,” he told reporters at the Capitol.
The New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment has been holding public hearings around the state to get input on redistricting. It will recommend how to redraw the lines to the full Legislature next year based on the 2010 census counts.
The Legislature failed this year to adopt a bill supported by Cuomo that would have created an independent process. Senate Republicans favored adopting a constitutional amendment to require that the process be independent, but that wouldn’t be in place in time for redistricting next year.
On the controversial issue of where prisoners should be counted — where they are from or where they are housed while they are incarcerated — the governor said the law adopted last year to count them in their hometowns is the law and has to be followed. He thinks the law is a good one, he said.
“I said, even before I was attorney general, I said and I wrote that I didn’t think it was right or fair that you’re counting prisoners in the prison district,” he said.
Counting prisoners where they are housed has helped boost the upstate population, and in turn the Republicans who represent the majority of upstate Senate districts.