Legislative deal makes little compromise in Albany

By Tom Momberg

Deals were reached in Albany Tuesday, a week and a half into a prolonged legislative session, extending both rent regulations and the Republicans’ prioritized property tax cap by four years, but the tentative accord left much of the legislative agenda unresolved.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) sought to extend New York City mayoral control over the city Department of Education by three years, but Cuomo said at a Tuesday news conference that negotiations would not allow more than a one-year extension.

Mayor Bill de Blasio asked the Legislature at the beginning of the session to make mayoral control of city schools permanent, and though the Democratic-controlled Assembly passed a three-year extension, Senate Republicans did not back down from their wish for only a temporary extension.

The deal also set aside $250 million in state funds to support nonpublic schools over the next two years and administered a tax credit to families paying for private schools and to individuals and companies that finance scholarships.

Cuomo and the Legislature also raised the charter school cap by 180, including 50 more in the city. One more education item got passed in the deal, requiring the state Department of Education to disclose more information to parents, something Cuomo said was important to both houses.

“Many parents have questions about what is happening with the teacher evaluation testing,” Cuomo said at the news conference. “It is hard to get answers. This will basically open up the black box that is SED (state DOE) and SED will give more information about questions, growth patterns, growth measures.”

Among issues that the Assembly and Senate could not agree on: the establishment of the Dream Act, which would provide state tuition assistance to undocumented college students; a minimum wage increase; criminal justice reform; and a raise in the age for adult prisoners from 16 to 18.

Because compromise made little headway, Cuomo stepped in with two executive orders: one that would give authority as prosecutor to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman over police killings of civilians for one year, and another that demanded all minor inmates to be held at separate facilities.

State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside) said the he had not see all parts of the omnibus bill, but that there were still several important pieces of legislation that were included.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the legislature to ensure that we pass a bill that will preserve affordable housing, give homeowners much-needed relief from ever-increasing property taxes, as well as address the myriad other issues,” Avella said in a statement.

Both the Senate and the Assembly ended the session with new leaders since Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and state Sen. Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau) were arrested on federal corruption charges. Both resigned their leadership posts but remain in office.

Legislators will have until July 1 to finalize and approve the deal specifics in both chambers.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomb[email protected]nglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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