From the Morning Memo:

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office was blindsided by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement in his 30-day amendments that he had linked part of his ethics reform package – an overhaul of the legislative per diem system – to a portion of the comptroller’s own budget.

No one from the Cuomo administration had bothered to give the comptroller’s staff a heads-up on this, or even seek their counsel regarding the rather sticky constitutional implications of putting ethics reforms into appropriations bills in an effort to force the Legislature’s hand.

“We were not consulted by the executive,” DiNapoli spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman confirmed.

This is not terribly surprising, given the rocky relationship between Cuomo and DiNapoli.

The governor is in the habit of not consulting the comptroller on issues that impact him – the public campaign finance pilot program (which turned out to be a dud) established last year solely for the comptroller’s race, is a perfect example.

(To be fair, the comptroller wasn’t warned by legislative leaders about that, either – not even by his former colleagues in the Assembly Democratic conference).

So, Cuomo’s surprise proposal that the comptroller would be prohibited from reimbursing expenses for a member of the Legislature or statewide elected official until expanded disclosure provisions are met sent DiNapoli staffers scrambling to figure out the ramifications and implications of that plan.

So far, they’ve determined that if for some reason the Legislature completely rejects Cuomo’s amendment, it could wipe out funding for the comptroller’s office employees who are in charge of reviewing – and paying – the state’s bills.

(Remember: If something is embedded by the governor in an appropriation bill, the Legislature only has the power to either strike it entirely or reduce its monetary value; but not to amend it).

This, of course, would be highly problematic. But the comptroller’s office isn’t terribly worried, because it seems unlikely lawmakers will take the risk of completely ruling out Cuomo’s per diem reform idea.

That said, the comptroller is questioning the efficacy of Cuomo’s plan, noting that anything achieved through the budget will be short lived – basically lasting only as long as the duration of the spending plan itself, which would be (at most) two years.

“Clearly there is a need to strengthen the state’s ethics laws,” Freeman said. “But broad policy issues are generally best dealt with on their merits rather than attaching them to time-limited appropriations.”

“Comptroller DiNapoli expects these issues will be worked out during negotiations between the Legislature and the Executive.”