ALBANY, N.Y. — For years, Governor Andrew Cuomo made sure the state's budget was passed by the April 1 deadline, fulfilling a campaign promise to return order to the chaotic state capitol.
In 2017, though, the governor is staring down a state budget delay that grows by the second, and which will be the latest state budget on his watch — whenever it passes. The governor has signaled that the late spending plan is a necessity in the face of unknown budget priorities in the Trump administration.
Some see that as baseless posturing, obscuring the fact that the governor has failed at one of his proudest annual achievements.
"He certainly made it an issue. So by his own standard, it's a failure," acknowledged E.J. McMahon on Monday.
McMahon, the director of the independent Empire Center for Public Policy, has often been no fan of Cuomo. But, McMahon says, although an on-time budget has been one of Cuomo's top priorities in the past, it's not vitally important to the health of the state.
"The ultimate measure of [Cuomo's] effectiveness is whether the budget is good, and right for New York," McMahon said. "Is he negotiating effectively or not? The proof will be in the final result."
Across town, another good-government researcher disagreed.
"The law's the law," said Blair Horner, director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, noting that the law requires a budget be passed by April 1.
"To the extent that the budgets are late," Horner continued, "it erodes [Cuomo's] claim that he's brought order to chaos."
Inquiries to the governor's press office and a spokesman went unanswered Monday afternoon.
Within the budget process, Syracuse-area Senator John DeFrancisco said later in the day that some feel the governor is looking beyond the well-being of New York State.
"I think he's lost his focus. The focus no longer is on getting a budget, the focus is on his political future," DeFrancisco said of the governor, who went to great lengths in a Sunday night statement to blame Washington for New York's budget dysfunction.
"We knew we wouldn't have a federal budget before April 1, and all of a sudden ... [Cuomo] decided it's more politically expedient" to release that statement, said DeFrancisco.