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Governor Andrew Cuomo looks back at the first six months of his administration and he’s not shy with his assessment: “The state government worked.”
Now it’s on to the next six months and a top to bottom redesign of state government that he calls, New York Works. “A government that rewards performance and this if there’s one point that we have to reinforce over and over we are here to perform and we are here to reward performance,” Cuomo said.
That means more programs like the federal education Race to the Top, where only a select few get federal education aid and only if they meet certain criteria. Cuomo has already put the competition angle into a small part of education funding, now he is signaling that it will become a basic feature of many state funding programs.
Cuomo said he intends to lean on his SAGE commission – that is, the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission. It’s an independent panel co-chaired by the chairman and CEO of Eastman Kodak.
Cuomo has charged the commission with merging government services and making the state more efficient.
He wants the commission not to look at the state’s agencies but at it’s functions, what the state does or should do, and create the systems to accomplish those functions. His implication is that no state agency is immune from change or dissolution if it’s function is better handled elsewhere or not at all.
That would conflict with many of Albany’s deeply entrenched interests, but then the battles of the first six months already did that.
“We are going to put two things together: a new state government approach to implement a new economic development strategy. So it’s the government reinvention, New York Works principles meet the number one priority for the state, which is economic development and jobs,” said Cuomo.
Cuomo calls that New York Open for Business. He intends to make a $130 million - that the state has for economic development - available to local governments through competitions.
“You come up with one plan in a regional context, you submit that one plan to the state and we’ll consider it an application for all these various state programs. It’s never been done before. We have experimented with it on the federal side. It’s ambitious. It’s a lot of work, but it is exactly right and it drives us together.”
Cuomo plans to appoint regional economic councils in ten regions of the state and he plans to back all of this with a marketing campaign for business development that mirrors the success of the I Love New York tourism campaign. And the Governor plans to take all of this on the road, packing up all of state government and taking it to Syracuse or Jamestown or Plattsburgh for a few days.
It’s an evolution of his effort of the first six months of forcing change inside Albany but it carries the same message: consolidation, competition, radical change.