Governor Cuomo’s proposal to cap arbitration awards for police and firefighters is not included in the Senate or Assembly budget bills. This may be blessing in disguise: as argued here, Cuomo’s original proposal didn’t go nearly far enough. Since the arbitration law expires on June 30, the governor remains in a commanding position to demand more.
Both the Senate and Assembly budget bills include provisions that would simply extend the existing arbitration law, with no changes, for four more years (see Part Q of each measure). So if the governor is committed to giving local taxpayers any relief from this costly collective bargaining provision, he needs to tell the Legislature that all bets are off — the arbitration issue will not be addressed until after the budget is done.
This development gives Cuomo a chance to revise his approach, dig in his heels and insist that the arbitration law won’t be extended unless it is drastically overhauled in a manner designed to promote a restructuring of unsustainable contracts. (Indeed, in the best of all worlds, as the Daily News has editorialized, the law would simply be allowed to die.)
The clock is ticking on arbitration. Time is on the governor’s side. Will he use it — or cave, using the budget as cover?