Trying to assuage concerns about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mandate-relief proposals, Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy told mayors today that the governor’s office is doing plenty to help them with their financial woes.
“He has taken a bigger whack at mandates than anybody I have ever seen,” Duffy, a former Rochester mayor, told reporters after speaking at the state Conference of Mayors. “If I was a mayor and Governor Cuomo was in office, I would be ecstatic. He listens, he’s honest. He’s direct.”
Duffy also said he has heard little criticism of Cuomo’s plan to let local governments and schools smooth out their pension costs over 25 years, paying a 12.5 percent flat rate rather than dealing with ebbs and flows in costs.
“It might not work for every mayor. He’s just saying here’s an option to get through those times,” Duffy explained.
Cuomo didn’t address the mayors at their conference, but had them at the governor’s mansion this morning for breakfast. Peter Baynes, the executive director of the Conference of Mayors, said Cuomo asked for their support for his initiatives in his 2013-14 budget proposal.
The group is supporting the pension-smoothing plan, but other local leaders are leery.
“I think the way it was designed, they did it in a thoughtful way,” Baynes said. “There are safeguards in there in terms of the comptroller can make adjustments to the rate, to the term of the program. Some people have said that local governments are going to get hurt in the long run, but I don’t think so.”