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Time to lead

For weeks, talk of a special legislative session by all accounts filled the air in Albany. But it came to nothing; late last Friday, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said negotiations had fallen short and a special session would not happen.

As a result, legislation to allow ridesharing services such as Uber and Lyft in Upstate New York will have to wait until sometime in the new year—at best.

Also kicked down the road are ethics reforms Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted lawmakers to take up and a pay hike for lawmakers, which Mr. Cuomo appeared willing to discuss in exchange for legislative action on ethics and other issues.

Enactment of a regulatory framework that allows for ridesharing services in the upstate region is long overdue. Some argue the same is true of a hike in lawmakers pay, which last was increased more than 15 years ago, though that’s debatable.

But the failure to hold a special session is more than a lost opportunity. It also appears to signal an increase in state government discord and dysfunction. Published reports indicate Mr. Cuomo will not deliver the annual State of the State address to the Legislature, opting instead for a series of regional speeches that would foil some lawmakers’ intent to boycott the speech.

The political skirmishes come as the governor and lawmakers face increased uncertainty due to changes in Washington. The incoming Trump administration could cost New York billions of dollars in federal funds, which easily could intensify longstanding divisions in Albany.

Much now depends on Mr. Cuomo’s leadership. Polls show him with steady, slightly positive overall favorable ratings. But when asked specifically about his job performance, his rating falls below 50 percent.

What New Yorkers want, it seems, is more results on issues of importance to them. If the governor opts to take a combative approach with the Legislature, he will do so at his peril.

12/30/2016 (c) 2016 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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