(Note: Updated throughout to correct tax plan Astorino was referring to.)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax-cut package amounts to a “con job,” according to a potential Republican candidate for governor.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astornio continued his upstate media tour on Monday, talking to host Bob Lonsberry on WHAM-AM in Rochester. When asked about Cuomo’s comments from Friday—in which, while discussing office seekers, he said “extreme conservatives” have “no place in New York”—Astorino called them “outrageous”
“Anything to not let you see what’s behind the curtain—using fear, intimidation, bullying,” Astorino said. “That’s what this governor will be doing all year, because if I’m him, the last thing I would want to do is talk about taxes or his record on the economy. Last thing I would want to be talking about is how he’s driven a wedge between upstate New York and downstate.”
Cuomo’s office issued an open letter on Sunday that sought to add context to his Friday remarks, saying it was clear the governor was “making the observation that an extreme right candidate cannot win statewide because this is a politically moderate state (either moderate Republican or moderate Democratic).”
Astorino said New Yorkers should be “very, very cautious” when Cuomo further details his tax-cut plan, which calls for what amounts to a two-year property tax freeze, where the state would refund the tax increase on property owners for two years if their municipality and school district stay within the tax cap and move toward consolidating services. As the freeze phases out, a “circuit breaker”—in which property taxes are tied to a homeowner’s ability to pay—would phase in.
“Be very, very cautious when he starts talking about ‘tax cuts’ and sending checks back to everybody,” Astorino said. “Your money, by the way, folks. He’s sending your money. He took it out of your wallet, and then he’s keeping it, spending it on what he wants to, and then he’s going to give a little bit back for you and make you feel good about your own money. It’s like a con job.”
While Astorino hasn’t formally declared a run for governor, he has said he’s leaning toward challenging Cuomo.
The battle lines have already been drawn. The state Democratic Party, which is made up of leaders appointed by Cuomo, has knocked Astorino for his conservative social views, including his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. They’ve also knocked Astorino for Westchester County’s recent credit-rating downgrade by Moody’s.