Members of the scandal-scarred state Legislature may boycott Gov. Cuomo’s inauguration this Thursday and his State of the State Address Jan. 7 in an angry protest over their failure to win a long-hoped-for pay raise, The Post has learned.
The boycott is being actively discussed by lawmakers from Cuomo’s own Democratic Party, who accuse the governor of deep-sixing what would have been their first pay raise in 16 years out of fear of a political backlash.
If a boycott is mounted, many Republican legislators are also expected to go along, a GOP lawmaker said.
“Cuomo is afraid to take the heat on this, the merits be damned,’’ said one Democratic lawmaker. Another said, “The members are furious. This is something they really wanted and believed was justified. I mean, it’s been 16 years.’’
It’s not clear how many lawmakers have been invited to Cuomo’s inauguration, which will be held in New York City and Buffalo, rather than in Albany, as it was four years ago.
But all 213 members of the Legislature are invited to the State of the State Address in Albany, and it’s there that a sizeable boycott would be noticed. Cuomo and the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Legislature have been holding pay-raise talks for weeks, with the possibility that top aides to Cuomo, and the governor himself, could see their salaries increased in a final deal.
But Cuomo has insisted he would agree to a pay hike only if the Legislature addressed a long series of criminal and ethical charges against many of its members by passing several reforms, such as a limit on outside incomes earned by lawmakers and a system of publicly financed campaigns.
The legislative leaders, however, responded that Cuomo was making demands he knew were unacceptable in a politically motivated effort to appear as a reformer because he’s under federal investigation for dismantling his anti-corruption Moreland Commission panel.
The deadline to get a pay raise deal done is Wednesday night at 11:59 AM. Once the new legislative session starts, the legislature can only vote for a pay raise for a future legislature.
Cuomo's lost this issue, no matter what happens here.
If he caves and makes a pay raise deal hours before the deadline, it's going to look like Quid Pro Cuomo stuff, especially coming just days after he vetoed Port Authority reform legislation (a veto he did his best to bury by doing it on Christmas Weekend.)
If he doesn't cave, he's going to have a pissed legislature looking to pay him back for screwing them on the pay raise deal.
Either way, it's a win-win if you're looking for Cuomo to be further weakened going into the next legislative session.