Depending on who you believe, the Cuomo administration wants to improve security and access around Penn Station – or engage in a mammoth land-grab in the heart of Midtown.

In a story first broken by Politico New York yesterday, the Cuomo proposal would allow the state to take properties from Sixth to Eighth Avenues from 30th to 34th Streets and exempt any development in the area from city regulations.

After city leaders went ballistic over the idea later in the day, Team Cuomo insisted that the idea was a draft -- and that the state just wants to improve egress around Penn Station in the name of security.

Even if you give the governor the benefit of the doubt, inserting the Penn Station plan into the budget just shows you how lousy the decision-making process is in Albany.

Year after year, policy initiatives are quietly slipped in the state’s massive spending plan and then New Yorkers find out about afterwards. Using a budget bill as a camouflage is a silly way to do business but most lawmakers are routinely voting on important legislation that they’ve never really read.

Budget talks have stalled this week – with a wayward coyote lurking outside the State Museum and the brief arrest of a Daily News reporter for talking on his cell phone getting more attention than lawmakers.

Rather than ramming things through at the last minute before Easter and Passover, lawmakers should instead pass a relatively-small spending bill that would keep the state government running and then take the time to actually study whatever “Big Ugly” budget bill comes their way.

It’s a sure bet that there will be another Penn Station tucked away somewhere in that budget. Somebody should call that coyote.


Bob Hardt