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Stavisky weighs in on mayoral control of schools

By Madina Toure

At her annual legislative roundtable, state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing) said she was disappointed that mayoral control over the city’s schools was only extended for a year but touted a series of legislative achievements.

At the roundtable discussion at her district office at 142-29 37th Ave., Stavisky said Senate Republicans and Mayor Bill de Blasio do not get along, arguing that mayoral control should have been extended for three years as opposed to one year.

“The previous mayor gave the Senate Republicans almost a million dollars in campaign contributions, $900,000,” she said. “This mayor, they have in their sights. They want to hurt him and they tried through mayoral control and I suppose it didn’t work because we did extend it, but nevertheless, there were no reforms, no additional parental involvement and I think that’s a mistake.”

She also criticized the Senate Republicans for blocking any limitations on outside income as well as legislation that would prohibit legislators from using campaign funds to pay for outside counsel when they get into trouble. She also said there is a need for campaign finance reform, pointing out that the contribution limits for the governor are high in the $40,000-$50,000 range.

“I can accept up to $18,000 from any one source,” she said. “But an LLC can give me $500,000. There’s no limit and that’s what’s wrong.”

She blasted the Republicans for taking the Dream Act—legislation authorizing undocumented students who graduate from high school in New York to apply for college financial aid—out of the budget.

But there were two major bipartisan efforts that passed: a bill that increases penalties for selling opioids—medications used to manage acute and chronic pain—that also mandates that doctors can only prescribe them for seven days at a time, down from 30, and a zombie/foreclosed homes bill.

She also praised the rescinding of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal that New York City pay $485 million to CUNY for the 2016-2017 fiscal year and said tuition at SUNY and CUNY will remain the same as last year for the “first time in many years.” Faculty and staff now have a contract with CUNY after being without one since 2010, while $50 million—$30 million for SUNY and $20 million for CUNY—was appropriated for capital maintenance.

Other accomplishments include a new requirement for lead poisoning testing in every school, an increase in the minimum age to $15, the passage of paid family leave, increased access to breast cancer screening and treatment, the largest middle-class personal income tax cut in more than 70 years and a $27 billion MTA capital program that includes $26.6 billion for improvement of capital facilities operated by NYC Transit Authority, LIRR, Metro-North and MTA Bus. She also received an above average rating on gun safety from New Yorkers Against Gun Violence.

“We did not pass any gun reform changes, but I did get a notice from New Yorkers against Gun Violence where I rate the legislators and I received the highest rating,” she said. “I guess I got one of the lowest from the NRA. Nevertheless, it tells you where I stand on the violence that’s going on.”

Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtoure@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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