ALBANY -- The legislative session runs until late June, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn't see many outstanding issues being resolved after a state budget deal last week was chock full of policy issues.

Perhaps the most outstanding issue remains another round of ethics reforms after Cuomo's former top aides were charged last year in a sweeping corruption scandal.

But Cuomo said while he proposed a series of new ethics and campaign-finance policies in January, he contended the Legislature is not interested.

"They will not do it. Their position is: We did it. We did more ethics reform than ever before, which is true," Cuomo told reporters Saturday at the governor's mansion, where he hosted an annual Easter Open House.

"There is more disclosure. There is more transparency. My point is: There is more to do. There is no political will to do it."

Cuomo said his focus will be on helping the upstate economy and guiding major development projects, such as rebuilding the state's airports and bridges.

The legislative session runs until June 21, and there is often a late push in the final days by lawmakers and the governor to get bills into law.

But this year, Cuomo argued, was different: The budget approved April 9 included a series of major policy changes -- such as a free SUNY tuition plan for income-eligible students and raising the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18.

The complexity of the issues led to the latest state budget of Cuomo's seven-year tenure. Usually, the budget has approved on or close to the March 31 deadline since he took office in 2011.

"Those that weren’t done in the budget, I don’t know that they are feasible to get done," Cuomo said of unsettled issues, which also includes a push by Democrats to let undocumented immigrants get access to tuition assistance programs.

"If we didn’t get it done in the budget, it means you don’t have the political will to get it done."

Good-government groups have urged Cuomo and lawmakers to pass more ethics reforms after Cuomo's former top aide, Joseph Percoco, and former SUNY Polytechnic Institute president Alain Kaloyeros were charged last fall for alleged kickbacks and steering contracts to upstate developers, who were also charged in the federal probe.

"The governor’s job is to fix problems. This is a huge problem. He should be pushing to fix it," said Blair Horner, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Under Cuomo, the Legislature has passed five rounds of ethics reforms in his seven years in office to respond to scandals, including the convictions last year of the two former legislative leaders, Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos.

Assembly Democrats have passed a series of ethics reforms that have yet to receive final approval by the Republican-led Senate, said Mike Whyland, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx.
He pointed to one in particular that has languished: banning campaign donors from setting up multiple limited-liability companies to skirt donation limits to politicians.

"The Assembly Majority has passed multiple reforms including closing the LLC loophole and improving elections," Whyland said.

Part of the negotiations between legislative leaders and Cuomo has centered on which side should have more restrictions put on them.

Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif said senators are open to new measures, pointing to the series of steps they have taken in recent years, such as greater disclosure of their outside income and stripping convicted lawmakers of their pensions.

But Reif added, "As always, any additional ethics reforms should include both the legislative and executive branches."

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, put the blame on Senate Republicans.
"The current situation in the Senate is stifling progress on so many important issues like ethics, voting reforms, and increasing access to a higher education for all New Yorkers," she said in a statement. "There are still three months left for legislators to do their jobs and act on these common-sense priorities."