The New York Racing Association has been a source of controversy for the past several years. Earlier this year, the state approved a plan to take over the troubled organization. As our Nick Reisman reports, there could be more changes coming to NYRA in the near future.
NEW YORK STATE -- Governor Andrew Cuomo is the proud owner of a 70 percent approval rating that's held more or less steady through two budget cycles and 21 months since taking office. But there are potential problems down the road: The governor must make decisions on hydrofracking, possibly back a deeply unpopular legislative pay raise all the while dealing with a one billion dollar deficit.
Cuomo said, “There are very few projects nowadays that are not controversial. God bless our society. Everybody has an opinion and access to the court system.”
Whether the state allows the high-volume fracking to move forward will be closely watched by the environmentalists who oppose it and the energy companies pushing for New York to approve the method. But Cuomo says he is in no rush, even suggesting to reporters that an extensive health impact study could hasten the process.
“To say I want an answer next week, well, what happened to science?” Cuomo asked.
Meanwhile the governor will also have to make a decision on what to do about with the state's horse racing industry. The New York Post reported on Monday that the state was considering a private take over the scandal-scarred New York Racing Association. State officials did not deny privatization is possible.
“The operations of NYRA, which is what's at issue is here because it's been flawed, can be done in a variety of ways. No one option has been selected, but there are many ideas on the table and we'll look at that,” State Operations Director Howard Glaser said.
And Cuomo may also back a pay raise for state lawmakers in a special session this year that could result in a host of unresolved matters being approved. Polls show that a legislative pay raise, which would come after Election Day, is deeply unpopular with voters.
“I would like to see the minimum wage increased, as you know. I would have liked to see us find an answer that starts to address the stop and frisk issue,” Cuomo said.
And Cuomo may have to do it all with a destabilized State Assembly. As the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal continues, Speaker Sheldon Silver is batting away calls for his resignation for his role in approving secret settlements. Silver's presence would be vital for any of Cuomo's legislative goals.
Cuomo said, “I have no reason to believe Sheldon Silver is not going to be the speaker.”