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Russell on Cuomo

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Senate Republicans fall all over themselves to praise the state's Democratic governor, while Andrew M. Cuomo's Democratic counterparts are much more willing to criticize him.
The focus lately has been on the back-and-forth with Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, but today, we've got a local example: Assemblywoman Addie Russell, D-Theresa.
Mrs. Russell discussed her views on Mr. Cuomo at an editorial board meeting today. She disagrees with his effort to implement the option of a 401(K)-style retirement plan for future state hires, and his budget's $250 million in competitive grants to schools (which many north country schools said they can't apply for).
Mr. Johnson said that it seemed that she "didn't have any use" for Mr. Cuomo.
"I wouldn't say that at all," Mrs. Russell responded, adding: "There’s a whole rhetoric that goes with things. And I’m not sure what the reality is always lines up with the rhetoric."
Mrs. Russell has been lukewarm to Tier VI, particularly the 401(K) provision, which she said wouldn't be beneficial to the solvency of the system.
"Nobody is going to opt into the 401(K) unless they’re the political appointees in (Mr. Cuomo's) cabinet and his inner circle that are flipping from the public sector to the private sector for a very short period of time," she said.
Mrs. Russell noted that New York's system of government provides for a strong executive.
For example, if the Legislature doesn't pass his budget on time, he can present them with an option: Vote for it in one extender, or shut down government.
"Do I have drinks with him every night? No," she said. "But I can respect what he does. He’s got a lot of power to be able to do it, given how the system’s been structured."
Mrs. Russell said that the Legislature still does have its check, even after a court ruling gave New York governors wide sway over its budgetary affairs.
"You do have to do other things together that can foster a working relationship," she said. "There’s likely always going to be a governor that’s aligned with one house or the other."

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