DiNapoli: In-Depth Inspections On Canal System Needed

The state Canal Corp. has not conducted in-depth inspections needed for structures along the 524-mile system of waterways throughout the state, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office found in an audit released on Tuesday.

Routine operational checks do occur along the Canal Corp’s structures, but the audit found 38 percent of the system’s critical structures, or 792 in total, have not been inspected within the last five years. Of those, 163 structures have never had an in-depth, above-water inspections as required.

The audit also determine 430 high and intermediate importance structures have not had an inspection within the last two years.

For the 1,068 structures in need of below-water inspections, 832 have not received one in the last five years, the audit found.

“There are significant canal structures that have not been inspected in many years – and some not at all, possibly elevating risks to the canal system, canal users and those who live by it,” DiNapoli said. “Because the canal system depends on aging hydraulic structures and includes many other structures that are exposed to the elements, regular inspections are essential to ensure safety. Canal officials should immediately seek all available funding for infrastructure repair, make sure all inspections are getting done and the system’s greatest repair needs are being met. It is encouraging that in response to the audit, canal officials largely concur with our recommendations.”

The Canal Corp. is a subsidiary of the state Thruway Authority that was created in order to operate and maintain the canal system. The canal system itself, once a major way of trafficking goods through the state’s ports, has since become more of an attraction for recreational boaters.

State law requires in-depth inspections of structures along the system over a two-year cycle.

The audit recommended a series of fixes for the Canal Corp’s inspection routine, including entering into a formal agreement with the Department of Transportation to handle inspections for all state-owned canal bridges.

At the same time, the Thruway Authority is being instructed to develop a long-term financial plan that’s aimed at improving the overall infrastructure along the canal system.

14s45 by Nick Reisman

Assembly Introduces Alternate Pension Forfeiture Amendment

From the Morning  Memo:

Democratic lawmakers in the state Assembly this weekend introduced a revised and more tightly proscribed version of a constitutional amendment that would strip pension and retiree benefits from public officials who are convicted of a crime.

The changes came after labor unions raised issues with the initial version of the amendment, which they said was far too broad in its scope and could impact lower level civil servants.

The new proposal is far longer and offers precise definitions for a public official as including state and local elected officials, judges, political appointees of the governor as well board members who sit on entities such as public benefit corporations or authorities.

Those officials would have to be convicted of a felony in order to lose their pension benefits.

Senate Republicans in March approved a shorter, more direct version of the amendment as part of a broader agreement on the $142 billion state budget.

But Assembly Democrats balked at the changes in early hours of April 1, the start of the state’s fiscal year, saying an amendment would be taken up afar they returned from the Albany break.

It was later revealed several public employee unions had come forward to raise questions about how the amendment could impact their leadership. Other lawmakers have raised issued with the original amendment’s wording as well, saying it could impact officials convicted of crimes other than corruption.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heasite has insisted his chamber will pass a pension forfeiture amendment before the end of the session, which is scheduled to conclude next month.

“We’ve made an agreement that we will pass a constitutional amendment resolution on pension forfeiture and we still believe we’re going to do that,” Heastie said this month. “We’re speaking with the governor. There’s a little bit of a delay and we’re starting to engage with the Senate. But we’ve made very clear we will not leave here in June without passing something with pension forfeiture.”

Real State Industry Joins 421a Air War

From today’s Morning Memo:

With the clock ticking in Albany and the rent laws set to expire next month, a new coalition led by downstate real estate interests is launching a multimillion dollar campaign in favor of a “revised” version of the controversial 421a tax abatement program it insists will result in more affordable housing in New York City.

The Affordable Hosing and Local Jobs Now Coalition’s campaign features a TV ad, which will start airing on broadcast and cable stations in NYC and Albany today, as well as radio and paid digital ads.

The ad, which was made by Global Strategy Group and can be viewed below, slams “special interests” pushing for a “deceptive wage proposal” to be included in 421a that would “stop builders from hiring local workers, severely restricting new affordable housing construction and denying thousands of families a place to call home.”

That’s a reference to the coalition group UP4NYC, formed by labor unions and contractors, which earlier this month launched its own multimillion dollar campaign calling for 421a to be modified to guarantee higher wages for construction workers.

The AFL-CIO recently signed on in support of the prevailing wage push, which is not part of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 421a/affordable housing plan – a fact that puts him at odds with some of his transitional allies in the organized labor movement.

In fact, the Real Estate Board of New York – or REBNY, which is the driving force behind the Affordable Housing and Local Jobs Now Coalition – supports de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, and is calling on Albany lawmakers to approve it before the session’s scheduled end next month.

Members of the new coalition also include the NYS Association for Affordable Housing, the Community Preservation Corporation and the NAACP.

The coalition maintains that the prevailing wage proposal being pushed by UP4NYC would force a 30 percent increase in construction costs, making housing projects in the city too expensive, and resulting in either a reduction of new affordable units by half or a monthly rent increase on units of $400.

“With sky-high land and construction costs, along with the disproportionate tax burden on rental properties, building multi-family rental housing in New York City has become very challenging,” said incoming REBNY President John Banks.

“A revised 421-a program will help address that challenge, leading to the creation of more multi-family affordable rental housing throughout New York City. A prevailing wage requirement for construction will send the City in the opposite direction – leading to less affordable housing and less local employment.”

UP4NYC spokesman Tom Meara responded:

“UP4NYC is committed to improving the lives of working class families. We will not retreat because wealthy special interests are going to advocate to protect their profit model. 421a must be fixed.”

“Public subsidies require public responsibilities. Increase the wage and increase the true number of affordable units anything less is Albany being run by wealthy special interests.”

The ad makes no mention of de Blasio or his plan to reform 421a.

That’s probably smart, given the fact that the mayor is no friend to the Senate GOP, which is closely allied with the real estate industry, thanks to the more than $1.3 million a REBNY-backed PAC spent to help the conference win back the majority last year.

Before leaving Albany for the Memorial Day weekend, the Assembly Democrats passed legislation to extend and strengthen the rent laws. But so far, neither house has taken up the 421a issue.

The program is a bit of a political hot potato these days, thanks to the role it played in the federal corruption scandals that cost both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos their respective leadership posts.

The Daily News’ Ken Lovett reported yesterday that some Senate Republicans are leery of the usual horse-trading required to create the end-of-session “Big Ugly” – the yard ball of unrelated deals that traditionally closes out the season in Albany.

According to Lovett, the lawmakers don’t want to do anything that further sparks the interest of corruption-busting US Attorney Preet Bharara – and that includes cutting deals on anything to do with rent control and 421a.

Siena Poll: Voters Say Jobs And Education Trump Ethics

Virtually all voters agree that corruption remains a serious problem in state government, but ethics reform ranks behind issues like the economy and education on voters’ to-do list for the Legislature, a Siena College poll released on Tuesday found.

Forty-one percent of voters approve of the job Gov. Andrew Cuomo is doing as the state’s governor — the lowest since he has taken office. His favorability rating is 53 percent to 44 percent, down slightly from last month, the poll found.

Meanwhile, 73 percent of voters believe the state’s cap on property tax increases should be allowed to continue, and 43 percent do not want it changed. Thirty-six percent believe the cap should be altered to allow school districts and local governments more flexibility in raising taxes.

Ninety percent of voters polled said corruption remains a serious issue for Albany as the Legislature is rocked by the arrests of both legislative leaders in Democratic-led Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate on separate charges of fraud and graft.

Still, despite the pervasive attitude that corruption is widespread in state governments, voters rank ethics reform third on a list of top issues for state lawmakers.

The poll found 30 percent of voters want lawmakers and state officials to deal with jobs and the economy, while education was cited by 27 percent. Meanwhile, 15 percent of voters said corruption and ethics needed to be dealt with, while taxes and health care were named by 13 percent and 12 percent of voters respectively.

A parade of state lawmakers have been led out of office in handcuffs in recent years, a spate that has grown to include the Senate majority leader, Dean Skelos and, at the start of the year, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Both Silver and Skelos stepped down from their legislative leadership positions in the days after their arrests.

The poll found that 62 percent believe corruption among their state lawmakers is a serious problem. But despite the headlines, a majority — 57 percent — believe the level of corruption at the Capitol has stayed about the same over the last four years.

Combating corruption or strengthening the state’s campaign finance laws do not appear to be a top priority at the moment in Albany, where lawmakers and Cuomo are grappling with expiring rent control laws, potential changes to the state’s property tax cap and changes to education measures approved in April.

Lawmakers and Cuomo this year did pass new measures designed to require lawmakers who are private-sector attorneys to reveal the names of their clients. That measure does not take effect until 2017.

Good-government groups continue to press for campaign-finance changes such as curtailing how much limited liability companies can contributed to political campaigns and causes.

The poll found 78 percent of voters back limiting how much money candidates for office can raise while 21 percent said it would not have an impact.

Other ethics measures — such as creating a new ethics watchdog and increasing disclosure of outside outcome of state lawmakers — all scored above 70 percent for voters in terms of effectiveness.

Voters were most skeptical of limiting lawmakers outside pay and making the Legislature full time. Fifty-seven percent said that would effectively reduce corruption, while 38 percent said it wouldn’t have an impact.

When it comes to education policy, both the DREAM Act and the education investment tax credit remain polarizing issues for voters.

The tax credit is meant to spur donations to public schools and scholarship programs that benefit private and parochial schools

It is the subject of a major push from both Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Cuomo himself as the session winds down, but is opposed by the state’s teachers unions.

The EITC is backed by 44 percent of voters compared to 49 percent who say they oppose it.

The DREAM Act, which provides tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants, is also underwater with voters: 47 percent support it, compared to 50 percent who do not.

The gun-control law known as the SAFE Act, which newly elected Majority Leader John Flanagan says he supports changing, remains popular statewide: 62 percent of voters say they support it.

Upstate, the poll found that the SAFE Act is less popular: 50 percent of voters oppose it, compared to 46 percent of voters who back it.

The state’s START-UP NY program remains broadly popular as well: 52 percent of voters say they support the economic-development program. The program has its strongest support downstate: 59 percent of New York City residents back the program. Upstate, START-UP is underwater in its popularity — 49 percent of voters say they oppose the program.

The Siena poll of 695 registered voters was conducted from May 18 through May 21. It has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

SNY0515 Crosstabs by Nick Reisman

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area, New York City and Albany with no public schedule. State lawmakers are not scheduled to return to the Capitol until tomorrow, with 12 scheduled days remaining in the 2015 session.

At 10:30 a.m., the Audit Committee of the State University of New York Board of Trustees will meet, SUNY Global Center, 116 East 55th Street, Room 202, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will visit a classroom in Staten Island with Mayor Bill de Blasio. The two will make an announcement at a press conference to follow the visit, Library, 1st Floor, Building B, The Michael J. Petrides School, 715 Ocean Terrace, Staten Island.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will participate in a live Facebook Q-and-A on the topic of mental health. This event will be livestreamed at www.facebook.com/MicMedia.

Also at 11 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul joins Broome County Executive Debbie Preston and local officials to tour small businesses in downtown Binghamton, Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena, 1 Stuart St., Binghamton.

At noon, Hochul convenes a Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council meeting, Binghamton University, Innovative Technologies Complex, Room 2008 (directly off Murray Hill Road), Vestal.

At 1 p.m., Hochul hosts an “Enough is Enough” roundtable on combatting sexual assault on college campuses, Binghamton University, Innovative Technologies Complex, Boyer Conference Room​, Binghamton.

At 1:30 p.m., UFT President Michael Mulgrew, joined by elected officials and parent representatives, holds news conference to urge the Legislature to retain the current cap on charter schools, outside DOE Headquarters, Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan.

At 3:15 p.m., Hochul tours the Cornell Cooperative Extension and discusses local agriculture issues, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 840 Front St., Binghamton.

At 7 p.m., Brooklyn holds its first “Hillary for America” organizational meeting, where volunteers and supporters will be joining to share in their expression of support for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 White House bid and to discuss methods for best getting involved with the campaign, 650 Washington Ave., Brooklyn.


Trying to succeed where Comcast failed, Charter Communications has struck a deal to buy (our parent company) Time Warner Cable, an acquisition that would create a powerhouse in the consolidating American cable and broadband industry. In 2013, Charter made a play to acquire Time Warner Cable when the stock price was between $110 and $130.

Charter plans to announce today a $55 billion deal for its larger rival and an approximately $10 billion takeover of a smaller competitor, Bright House Networks.

Food Network television star Sandra Lee was released from the hospital yesterday following breast cancer surgery. She returned to the Mount Kisco home she shares with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

On her Facebook page, Lee said she’s “so happy” to be home at “Lily Pond” with the governor and her two pet birds.

Lee is still “slow on her feet” and has not regained her appetite, a spokeswoman said. “Her sister and Andrew are encouraging her to eat more…that will make her feel better,” she said.

Lee still has to undergo a series of post-surgery tests this week, and is also facing a four-month process to have her breasts reconstructed.

“I sort of thrive on this — there’s something wrong with me,” LG Kathy Hochul said of her jam-packed schedule. “I’m energized by it. I’m energized by the stimulation of meeting new people and the adventure of each day.”

Cuomo is reportedly pushing for the Buffalo mayoral control bill to be included in the end-of-session “Big Ugly,” but time is running out for the measure, which got a late start in Albany this year.

Some state Senate Republicans are so afraid of crusading U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara that they don’t want to engage in the traditional end-of-legislative session political deal making for fear of sparking more investigations.

The governor recently sent a scouting team to Manhattan to pick a location for the new barracks, a move that sources say is clearly designed to get in NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s face and under his skin.

Big Apple kids exposed to high levels of airborne filth and economic hardship have lower IQs that will haunt them into adulthood, according to an exhaustive, first-of-its-kind study by Columbia University.

More >

The Holliday Weekend That Has Been (So Far)

Celebrity TV chef Sandra Lee is improving after undergoing a double mastectomy last week, but “still has a ways to go,” her team said today.

Lee said the surgery has thrown her for a loop, and she has lost 15 pounds in just five days.

In the latest plot twist in the continuing drama about proposed mayoral control of the Buffalo Public Schools, Carl Paladino said he will file a legal challenge if the bill passes in the state Legislature.

Denise Jewell Gee, a self-professed “email hoarder,” says Cuomo’s 90-day purge policy was “just plain nonsensical – not to mention bad for open government.”

Shaheed “Roger” Khan and Victor Bourne are just a few in a rogues gallery of possible witnesses whose stories or testimony will figure into the upcoming trial of Brooklyn state Sen. John Sampson.

State funding for a pet project of Harlem Rep. Charlie Rangel mysteriously was cut by 87 percent last year. The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone received just $156,455 from the state, down from $1,289,657 a year earlier, according to tax filings.

US Sen. Charles Schumer is proposing a measure to fight what he calls the growing trend of child ID theft.

Julian Castro, the up-and-coming Obama cabinet secretary who is frequently mentioned as a likely running mate for Hillary Clinton, called Republican efforts to pin blame on his prospective future boss for the 2012 Benghazi attacks a “witch hunt.”

Clinton will hold a string of fund-raisers on June 1 – including one hosted by the ex-wife of Eliot Spitzer, the former governor of New York who resigned amid scandal in 2008.

Martin O’Malley, the former governor of Maryland, is expected to announce his candidacy for president on May 30 in Baltimore. Eliot Spitzer has been in a long-term, committed relationship with O’Malley’s spokeswoman, Lis Smith, for close to two years, but he’s not expected to donate to any presidential candidate.

Living in New York has been lucrative for Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton — and for their foundation. From their Westchester County home in Chappaqua, the Clintons have easy access to dinners and forums in Manhattan, where they’ve reported collecting fees exceeding $200,000 almost every time they give a speech.

Clinton is going to Columbia, S.C. on Wednesday for her first trip back to the Palmetto State since her 2008 presidential campaign.

The New York Times: “Gov. Andrew Cuomo can talk passionately about improving New York’s “failing public schools,” but when he made that point at churches and a yeshiva last Sunday it was, at best, disingenuous.”

Former Erie County Democratic Chairman-turned-lobbyist Steve Pigeon has left his “of counsel” post at the Buffalo office of Rochester-based Underberg and Kessler after a 13-year stint. He and longtime associate Gary Parenti now plan to expand their PAPI Consulting lobbying firm into a full-time effort.

Nassau County has reduced spending on contracts for minority- and women-owned businesses over the past three years, despite increased spending overall on contracts for public projects, according to a report by the legislative budget office.

State Senate Democrats increasingly are distancing themselves from and criticizing the man who leads their party: Cuomo.

An ex-lawyer disbarred for stealing $64,000 from his clients did not disclose his shady history when hired as a teacher a decade ago — and a NYC Department of Education background check failed to find it.

In a scathing open letter to de Blasio, charter school maven Eva Moskowitz said he hasn’t proved he’s the boss of city schools — and suggested he shouldn’t be granted continued mayoral control.

This was a record year for the Buffalo Marathon.


Happy Memorial Day weekend! Please take a moment to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our country. For those of you who are in the CapTon viewing area, there will be no show Monday night. There will be light blogging over the long weekend, as needed. Hope you get a chance to get outside and enjoy yourself…here are some headlines to peruse in the meantime:

A civil complaint that accused the former head of the SUNY Research Foundation of providing a no-show job to the daughter of former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno was quietly settled today – more than two years after the case was filed.

Peter Vallone Jr., who served as Astoria’s city councilman for 12 years, was nominated for a civil court judgeship this morning. Term-limited out of office in 2013, Vallone had taken a position with the Cuomo administration.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent comments about the value of cancer screening due to his girlfriend’s battle with breast cancer contrast with what health advocates say are his repeated efforts to cut funding for a major cancer screening program in New York.

The administration accused the IBTimes of “exploiting current circumstances for a cheap hit.”

Another hospital update from Sandra Lee; she says waking up is “the toughest part of the day.”

Pharmaceutical company Actavis will be required to keep manufacturing its Alzheimer’s drug Namenda, after the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction sought by AG Eric Schneiderman against the company’s plans to stop producing the drug.

The Democrat & Chronicle’s Len LaCara gives a thumbs down to the Cuomo administration’s new email retention policy.

The idea of Hillary Clinton vs. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016 makes some Democrats nervous.

The Professional Staff Congress, the union that represents more than 25,000 faculty and staff at the City University of New York, made its own proposal for annual salary increases at recent contract talks.

The long-planned, $4.45 billion Second Avenue subway project is 82 percent complete and on track for its first phase to open by December 2016.

At a press conference yesterday, Assemblyman Ron Kim and Rep. Grace Meng didn’t exactly oppose Cuomo’s recent plan to take emergency measures to improve conditions in the nail salon business. But they didn’t offer a ringing endorsement either.

Depending on the timing of his resignation to take a job with the Cuomo administration, there could be a primary battle for Democrat Assemblyman Sam Roberts’ seat.

Though they criticized his handling of the Eric Garner case and hope to defeat him in 2016, Democratic members of New York’s congressional delegation are willing to give GOP Rep. Dan Donovan a shot, thinking he may emerge as a helpful ally in the Republican-controlled House.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio never made good on a 2013 campaign pledge to return contributions from a scandal-scarred donor, former Met Council head Willie Rapfogel. “We regret the error,” a spokesman for the mayor said.

My Dad writes about fixing NYC’s “rotten boroughs” – “places with fewer actual voters that send representatives to the state Assembly, leading to unfair representation.”

The race for the top seat in the Oswego County District Attorney’s Office has officially started.

Sherman Jewett, a former staffer for the Assembly Democrats, will become the chief spokesman for the State University of New York. He will leave the private direct mail firm, Blue & Read, that he co-founded in 2010.

New York ranks as having the 39th highest beer tax in the nation, far below the highest-taxed beer state of Tennessee.

This is definitely the best video press release I’ve seen in a long time.

Marcellino: Mayoral Control And Charter Cap Will Be A Conference Decision

Incoming Senate Education Committee Chairman Carl Marcellino will meet next Wednesday with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to discuss the mayoral control issue, the Nassau County Republican said in a phone interview on Friday.

Whether to extend mayoral control of city schools, and how long that extension might be, will ultimately be an issue that’s up to the Republican conference, he said.

“We’re going to sit down on Wednesday and talk to Mayor de Blasio,” Marcellino said. “He and I will sit down and talk about the issues. There’s a lot to talk about. We’ll discuss the concepts. conference position. It’s an issue that has to e discussed in conference.”

The Democratic-led Assembly this week approved a three-year extension of mayoral control and Republican Sen. Martin Golden of Brooklyn on Thursday backed an extension, albeit without a time frame for a new expiration date.

By the same token, Marcellino said a proposal to lift the state’s cap on charter schools would also be up to the GOP conference as well.

“I don’t oppose charter schools, but how many there have to be has to be looked at,” he said.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan this afternoon formally announced he would appoint Marcellino to replace him as chairman of the Senate Education committee.

It’s a key spot in the Legislature, especially in the post-budget legislative session that is expected to contend with a number of high-profile education matters. Meanwhile, state lawmakers continue to grapple with contentious issues such as the Common Core education standards and how to evaluate teachers in the classroom.

He called the appointment a “major responsibility” and said he was optimistic changes could be made to the education measures approved in the state budget last month.

“We’ve got a lot before us there’s a lot to do on the table,” he said. “I’m looking forward to working with our colleagues in both houses. We have to reach out to parents and teachers.”

Marcellino is the sponsor of a bill in the chamber that would extend the deadline for the implementation of the new evaluation criteria both at the state level and for school districts.

“I’m always optimistic,” Marcellino said. “I do believe we can work out an agreement with the Assembly and then hopefully the governor will agree.”

Marcellino knocked the introduction of Common Core in the state, saying its roll out was mishandled by education officials.

“Common Core is about improving standards,” he said. “I don’t think anybody can seriously be against higher standards. But it’s a question of how it’s implemented. The roll out was poor, it’s got to be implemented better.”

Marcellino introduced a separate bill this year that would provide teachers with the answer key to Common Core-based tests, which he said could help teachers improve.

“I do believe there is an overemphasis on testing,” he said. “Using testing as a learning tool is important. You have to give the questions back to the teachers so they can learn from the test. The test should be a learning tool.”

A former high school science teacher at Grover Cleveland High School, Marcellino indicated he was sympathetic toward how teachers are treated (Marcellino was a teacher at the same time Assembly Education Committee Chairwoman Cathy Nolan was a student at the high school).

“Teachers have always been evaluated. We were evaluated constantly,” he said. “I don’t think any teacher fears an evaluation. We have to tell them this isn’t us against them. There’s no gotcha mentality in my approach to education.”

He indicated support for more money to develop teacher training methods and said the teachers unions should be getting involved as well to “make sure everyone has a fair shot.”

Nevertheless, Marcellino said there was little daylight between him and Flanagan on education issues, despite what he said were minor disagreements.

“I think we’re pretty much aligned,” he said. “John and I have been good friends for years.”

Marcellino’s Bills: Extend Teacher Eval Deadline, Reveal Common Core Info

Incoming Senate Education Committee Chairman Carl Marcellino has backed a number of education-related bills over the years as well as measures designed to reform the Common Core standards and teacher evaluation system.

Marcellino on Friday was the announced appointment of Majority Leader John Flanagan to chair the education panel, which will take up a number of high-profile school-related issues in the remaining post-budget legislative session.

Marcellino in the last several weeks alone has introduced legislation dealing with the Common Core standards as well as the newly approved teacher evaluation regulations.

The evaluation bill would move the deadline for school districts to adopt the new evaluation criteria from November of this year to June 2017. The new requirements for the evaluation criteria wouldn’t be set until Jan. 31, 2017, under Marcellino’s bill.

“The current effective date of June 30, 2015 is simply unrealistic when you combine all the obstacles currently in the way of a successful process,” the bill memo states. “The obstacles include the lack of a current SED commissioner, the learning curve of newly confirmed members to the Board of Regents, the confusion amongst the Board relative to the adopted language, and growing opposition from both parents and education professionals.”

Under the measure approved in the budget, school districts must adopt the evaluation criteria by Nov. 15 or risk losing a boost in state education aid.

The Democratic-led Assembly has already passed a package bills that would extend the deadline for setting the evaluation criteria as well as unlinking the aid from the evaluation adoption.

Another Marcellino-backed measure would reform Common Core-based tests by providing test answers and questions to teachers.

In the legislative memorandum of support, Marcellino expresses sympathy for teachers administering Common Core-based tests.

“In recent months, parents and teachers have expressed the need for common core tests and results to be made available to the teachers who administer the exams,” the bill memo states. “These results can be helpful to teachers and students to improve and better understand their strengths and weaknesses regarding these exams.”

Marcellino’s introduction of these bills could give those in the education reform movement some pause: Flanagan, as education committee chairman, was seen as generally supportive of Common Core-based standards.

In a Facebook post earlier this year, Marcellino expressed opposition to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education measures included in the budget.

“Let’s be clear. I do not support the Governor’s education reform proposals,” he wrote. “His plan is bad policy and bad for education. If it was up to me alone, these concepts would be off the table completely, but it takes the Senate, the Assembly and the Governor to craft a final budget. We must negotiate. Our Senate one house budget did not accept his plan and clearly states our intention to modify his flawed design.”

Marcellino has also been skeptical of efforts to tie an extension of mayoral control to New York City schools to rising the cap on charter schools statewide.

Other bills Marcellino has introduced would:

  • Require statements in the Board of Regents’ annual reports detailing total expenditures made by school districts
  • Require each school district to state what percentage of their expenses has gone toward instruction in an annual report card
  • Reduce the number of members on the Board of Regents to 13, with each representing an existing judicial district
  • Encourage school districts to install alternative energy systems such as solar, wind or geothermal.

Marcellino In Line For Senate Education Chair

Sen. Carl Marcellino of Nassau County will take the top post at the Senate Education Committee, Majority Leader John Flanagan said in a Friday afternoon statement.

Marcellino replaces Flanagan as chairman of the closely watched committee after he was elevated to majority leader last week, replacing Dean Skelos, who faces corruption charges.

“Next week, I will formally appoint Senator Carl Marcellino as Chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Education,” Flanagan said in a statement. “Senator Marcellino has a wealth of experience in the Legislature and is a former public school teacher and school board member with a strong grasp of the education system in New York State. I know he will do a tremendous job representing students and their parents when it comes to improving the quality of education, and he will be a tireless advocate for the members of our Senate Republican Conference and the taxpayers and constituents they represent.”

Marcellino is taking the helm at the committee at a key time for education issues: An extension of mayoral control for New York City schools remains under negotiations, as are changes to education measures, such as a new teacher evaluation system, are under debate.

Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing forward with a revamped education investment tax credit and an effort to raise the cap on charter schools statewide.