Is a huge Wisconsin-style revolt brewing in the Empire State? New York has unsustainable, long-term obligations to huge public employee pension funds as well as new governor who has talked bluntly about the need for layoffs across the board, and draconian budget cuts.
With his talk of reigning in government spending and asking unions for concessions in pay and benefits, New York's newly elected Gov. Cuomo has sounded more like NJ's Chris Christie than his father Mario Cuomo. Apparently some of his fellow Democrats are feeling that way too. Andrew Cuomo's plan for fixing the state's massive budget shortfall includes talk of many layoffs, cuts across the board, but no extension of the so-called millionaire's tax that expires at the end of 2011. Outspoken NYC Councilman Charles Baron (D-Brooklyn) wants no cuts, no layoffs and more taxes on the highest earners. And he is not shy about it.
Sunday night in Albany, the Governor was speaking to the state's Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators. What should have been a friendly place for a Democrat, turned hostile as Cuomo had to deal with a heckling Charles Barron, a New York City Council member from Brooklyn. The former Black Panther turned activist/politician broke into the governor's speech with shouts of;
"Shame on you!"
"Stop the cuts!"
Gov. Cuomo, like his father, did not back down from a challenge, replying;
"How are you tonight Charles? I can't see who it is, but I know who it is."
At that point, the Brooklyn-based City Councilman had the opening he needed and started leading the crowd of 500, chanting;
"TAX THE RICH! TAX THE RICH!"
Cuomo was forced to shout over the disgruntled democrats, ironically letting them know that they will not be divided. The Governor was also quick to let the attending members of the Press know that he believes his plan is correct, pointing to his current sky-high poll numbers;
"If you take that barometer, then you would say people accept the budget that I put out."
The entire story is covered in the first two minutes of the attached clip.