Cuomo: Closed-Door Budget Talks Transparent, Really

Photograph by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo

Classic New York budget negotiations go like this: the governor and the leaders of the two legislative houses stake out disparate positions publicly.

For the next two weeks, the three privately meet in the governor’s office.

The meetings rarely appear on public schedules, and reporters learn of them through sources. At the appointed time, reporters gather outside the wooden door to the governor’s office, sometimes for hours, and wait for the leaders to emerge. When they do, cameras are shouldered, voice recorders are pulled out and the leaders push through the crowd as reporters toss questions at them.

Sometimes, there’s a slight change in position. More often, there’s posturing.

There’s generally no details on the talks.

The last two years, there’s been four men in the room because the Senate is led by two chieftans instead of one.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he’s opened up the process.

“Just because something is done behind closed doors doesn’t mean the process isn’t transparent,” Cuomo said at a press briefing today. “You can’t do everything in public view always and have frank, candid, meaningful conversations.”

The 56-year-old Democrat went on to explain that the process is visible because the stance of each party at the table is made public.

“You know what my position is, you know what their position is, that’s all called transparency,” Cuomo said. “We have a meeting, they walk out, you put a microphone in their face; what did he say, what did she say, what did you say? That’s much more transparent than it’s ever been, that I can tell you.”

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