Assembly Republicans said Friday that Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb told them on Wednesday that Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to campaign in their districts if they didn’t support a bill to reform the state’s tax code.
Some Assembly Republicans said Friday that they were miffed by Kolb’s description of the late-night phone call with the Democratic governor, saying they shouldn’t be pressured on how to vote.
“I spent four years in the Marine Corps, 13 months in Vietnam. He doesn’t scare me,” Assemblyman Dan Burling, R-Alexander, Genesee County, said of Cuomo.
Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said Friday that Cuomo didn’t say he would campaign against Assembly Republicans, only that a vote against the bill would lead to less aid for schools and Medicaid next year and Cuomo would tell the public that.
Cuomo said Friday that was his point to Kolb, a Republican from Canandaigua.
“I was explaining my position on the bill and what I believed the merits of the bill were,” he said during a stop in Binghamton to sign a bill that provides $50 million in relief to flood victims.
“The state economic situation was such that we have a $3.5 billion deficit,” Cuomo continued. “If the state did not have additional revenues, we would have had to bring the education budget and the Medicaid budget to below zero. There would have to be cuts to education and to Medicaid if we didn’t have revenue.”
The Times Union in Albany first reported Friday on Cuomo’s alleged threat to the Assembly GOP conference. When asked about the article Friday in Binghamton, Cuomo called it “inaccurate.”
Kolb said Friday that he would not comment on a private conversation.
Kolb confirmed that there was a call from the governor, but he would not say what was said. He said his policy is not to publicly discuss conversations he has with the governor or other legislators, and that the call took place during a members-only conference.
“Members only is members only,” Kolb said.