Mar 30th - 12:24 pm
Taking a breaking from the budget madness for a moment to focus on the 2016 congressional elections…(yes, I know they’re far away).
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent out a fundraising appeal over the weekend on behalf of veteran Rochester Rep. Louise Slaughter, whose near loss in the 2014 general election by her under-funded and little-known Republican challenger, Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini, took Democrats both in New York and across the nation by surprise – especially after Slaughter survived a tough challenge in 2012 from a far better known GOP opponent, Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks.
Clearly, the Democrats do not intend a repeat of this experience when they try to re-take the majority in 2016, should the 85-year-old Slaughter seek yet another term. Assini has already signaled an interest in a rematch, and Slaughter has not ruled out running again.
In her email sent Sunday morning, Pelosi said she needed to talk about “my friend Louise,” who “won by just 871 votes last year, attracting the attention of Speaker Boehner and every mega Tea Party donor across America.”
“The first FEC deadline of the year is arguably the most important one, especially after such a close call in November,” Pelosi continued. “Louise’s opponent will be scouring this FEC report for any sign that Louise is weak. She must shatter records before her deadline on Tuesday.”
“Louise needs our help…We need more people like Louise in Congress. But apparently Republicans think we need less—and they’re prepared to put their money where their mouth is. That’s why I’m asking you to help Louise fight back now – before it’s too late.”
According to Pelosi, the DCCC is matching all contributions to Slaughter of $3 or more – yet another sign that the Democrats aren’t fooling around this time, taking this race seriously.
And if Slaughter doesn’t run, they’ll have to defend an open seat. Technically speaking, that should be a fairly easy lift for the Democrats in a presidential year, since they enjoy an enrollment edge in NY-25, but it all depends on who the candidates are – and, of course, you can’t forget that all politics are local.
It’s also worth noting, though this is completely unrelated, that Slaughter is appearing today with US Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is the favorite to succeed retiring Sen. Harry Reid as the next Democratic caucus leader in the upper house. The duo is together for a dedication ceremony at the Rochester Main Post office in honor of SPC Matt Glende
Mar 30th - 11:44 am
The president of the statewide teachers union on Monday was not willing to declare a win or directly bash the framework budget agreement given the lack of bill language on education.
“Until the details come out, it’s hard to draw any straight conclusions,” said NYSUT President Karen Magee.
We do know the budget includes plans that make it easier for schools to fire teachers who are deemed poor performing over the course of several years, extends granting tenure to four years and creates a new evaluation system for teachers that takes a blended approach of both state-based tests as well as local observation into account.
A receivership program for struggling or “failing” schools was also agreed to in the spending plan, which includes a year-long turnaround period for schools that submit plans to the state Department of Education.
Merit pay was also included in the budget plan as well, according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.
“At this point in time the governor’s budget is not a budge that’s good for all kids in New York state,” Magee told reporters. “That’s a concern we still have.”
But the specifics are yet to be fully fleshed out as state lawmakers return to the Capitol today to begin voting on the budget legislation that has already aged.
An administration official last night said the changes to the evaluation criteria won’t require going back to the collective bargaining process.
“He’s really looking at some attacks on collective bargaining as they relate to the annual professional performance review,” Magee said. “My understanding because the details aren’t clear at this time, the language isn’t written in at this time, but my understand is he’s going to be giving a lot of this work to the Board of Regents.”
The state Department of Education’s role in the performance review criteria, however, is said to be limited to developing a second, optional test for school districts that could be included in evaluations.
“The evaluation program and the conversations what we’re hearing at this time will include a combination of local measures, state measures,” Magee said. “The devil’s in the details and we do not have the details at this point in time, unfortunately.”
Mar 30th - 11:05 am
Manhattan Democratic Sen. Adriano Espaillat in a statement this morning called the lack of the inclusion in the DREAM Act in the budget an “injustice” that needs to be corrected.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to include the DREAM Act, which provides tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants, in the 2015-16 state budget and lashed it to the education investment tax credit.
Cuomo last month doubled down, by linking both the EITC and DREAM to the Tuition Assistance Program.
But ultimately both measures fell off the negotiating table. Cuomo cited the lack of desire to pass the education investment tax credit in the Assembly, given its opposition from the state’s teachers unions.
Senate Republicans remain opposed to the DREAM Act and rebuffed an effort to link the measure to a property-tax relief program.
“Today I am reminded of the Langston Hughes poem ‘Harlem’ and its fundamental question ‘what happens to a dream deferred?’ The failure to include DREAM Act funding in the budget is a missed opportunity for New York State to provide relief for hard working students trapped by our nation’s broken immigration system,” Espaillat said. “Immigrants have long been the backbone of this nation and this state and turning our backs on them is tantamount to turning our backs on core American values. It is disheartening that the 4000 undocumented immigrants who graduate from our high schools each year will continue to be denied the same access to higher education as their friends and classmates. While this budget is a step back, we won’t stop fighting until this injustice is corrected.”
The DREAM Act and the tax credit — meant to spur donations to public schools and scholarships — will likely be debated into the post-budget legislative session.
Their chances of passage outside of the budget are doubtful given the leverage landscape shifts away from the governor. Cuomo does have other leverage points he can use, including an expiration of rent control laws tied to the tax cap as well as an expiration of mayoral control for New York City schools.
Mar 30th - 8:11 am
From the Morning Memo:
The United Federation of Teachers on Sunday night declared victory in an email to its members, writing that most of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “Draconian agenda” had been turned back by state lawmakers.
“Now all of our hard work is paying dividends,” the teachers union that represents mostly New York City teachers wrote in the email to members. “The governor’s Draconian agenda has, in large part, been turned back. We want to thank the Assembly and the Senate for standing up for our schools and school communities.”
In the email, the union pointed to a variety of changes in the final budget agreement that had been reached last night, including tweaks to school receivership that provide for some local control, altered tenure requirements for up to four years and an evaluation system that will use several metrics, including state tests, observation and local input.
Cuomo was not able to win his plan to lift the cap on charter schools by 100 — a proposal that may be tied later down the road to an extension on mayoral control for New York City schools.
Also gone from the final product: A $20,000 merit bonus proposal for high-performing teachers.
Updated: Contra UFT’s email, the administration says an appropriation for the bonus proposal was included in the final agreement.
The Cuomo administration sees the education battle’s outcome a bit differently. Merely having state lawmakers, especially the Democratic-led Assembly, actually agree to these changes is a huge step forward.
A senior administration official last night called the public education system across the “$50 billion industry” that is resistant to reform.
At the same time, the reforms agreed to in the budget framework represent one of the biggest shifts in education policy in the state’s history, the official said.
Still, in the early reporting there’s some disagreement over the extent of the changes: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie last night told reporters there is input from the Department of Education on helping develop teacher evaluation criteria.
The official last night said SED’s role in criteria development for evaluations was minimal, save for helping put together a second, optional test for school districts to use.
Nevertheless, the efforts by both UFT and the statewide New York State United Teachers made for a more complicated and difficult set of negotiations with the state Legislature and Cuomo.
The governor was accused of “demonizing teachers” with the proposed changes and local level union members were stirred into traveling to the Capitol to protest and contacting their Legislature.
The unions’ strength and influence was strongest in the Democratic-led Assembly, where lobbyists were a near-constant presence this weekend waiting for news on education budget.
UFT describes rank-and-file members’ impact this way:
“They blasted his agenda on social media; invited him to visit their classrooms to see for himself the impact of overcrowded classes and lack of supplies; spoke out at community education forums; called, faxed and sent postcards to their state legislators; and held actions at their schools that engaged the entire school community.”
Mar 30th - 8:05 am
From the Morning Memo:
There’s a framework on the state budget for the looming fiscal year, agreed to with two days to spare.
The agreement announced Sunday night ensures there will be a fifth on-time budget, despite Cuomo’s threats to hold up the spending plan for stringent ethics and disclosure reform.
In the end, Cuomo got what he wanted: Changes to disclosure and ethics laws as well as education reform measures past a Legislature that was hesitant to do both.
There are a few asterisks in the budget, which Cuomo on Saturday said was “without a doubt” the hardest he’s had to negotiate at the Capitol.
Cuomo did succeed in gaining new disclosure of outside legal clients, though lawmakers can have that information redacted if the Office of Court Administration approves.
Education changes are there, too, but there’s some disagreement over the role the state Department of Education will play in developing evaluation criteria (We’ll likely have that clarified in the budget bills themselves).
While a host of other items fell off the table, Cuomo stuck with ethics and education as the paramount issues in the state budget, suggesting that was where he was focused in his negotiations with the Senate Republicans and Assembly Democrats.
Lawmakers in the Senate were hesitant to accept the disclosure requirements, which were proposed in February following the arrest of Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges.
Assembly Democrats, meanwhile, didn’t want to take up the education reform measures at the expense of upsetting the state’s teachers unions.
But Cuomo and state lawmakers both won compromises they were happy with despite the political back and forth.
With so much do to expire, June will likely be one of the busier months in the legislative calendar and a number of issues — rent control, mayoral control of education and property taxes — are due to come to a head at that time.
Mar 30th - 5:36 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. More details of the three-way framework budget deal announced last night between the governor and legislative leaders are expected today. The Senate Republicans are scheduled to hold a closed-door conference on the deal at noon.
At 8 a.m. PST, NYS Financial Service Superintendent Ben Lawsky will attend the National Governors Association Resource Center for State Cybersecurity’s Summit on State Cyber Security, Dolce Hayes Mansion, 200 Edenvale Ave., San Jose, CA.
At 11 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman makes an announcement, Office of the New York State Attorney General, 120 Broadway, 25th Floor, Manhattan.
At noon, attorney Leo Glickman and NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez discuss a $30,000 legal settlement Rodriguez received from the city to resolve a lawsuit concerning his treatment during the Occupy Wall Street movement’s 2011 protests; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.
Also at noon, NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina and others introduce a pilot literacy program to be offered at 20 family shelters, including the creation of libraries at each shelter offering donated reading materials expected to be used by about 1,000 families and more than 4,000 children; 785 Crotona Park North, the Bronx.
At 2 p.m., Rep. Hakeem Jeffries discusses efforts to promote technological innovation locally and nationally, and his work in Washington, during a free public event presented by New York Law School’s Institute for Information Law and Policy; room W401, 185 W. Broadway, Manhattan.
At 3 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will hold public hearings for and sign Intro. 685, in relation to extending rent stabilization laws; Intro. 435-A, in relation to reporting of special education services provided by the Department of Education; and Intro. 485-A, in relation to requiring the Department of Consumer Affairs to provide outreach and education for young adults, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.
At 5 p.m., a meeting will be held to discuss these questions and explore what worked and what can be improved on last year’s Mobile Food Vendor Pilot Program, which ran from August to October 2014, Albany City Hall rotunda, 24 Eagle St., Albany.
At 6 p.m., the interim president and chief executive of the Queens Library, Bridget Quinn-Carey, and members of the library’s board of trustees discuss the library’s proposed operating budget for the next fiscal year during a public hearing; Queens Library at Flushing, 41-17 Main St., Queens.
The framework budget deal reached last night by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislators clears a path for the governor to enact a spending plan before the April 1 start of the fiscal year for the fifth time in a row, though he will have to issue messages of necessity to circumvent the three-day bill aging requirement.
In a joint statement issued last night, Cuomo said: “With this agreement, we address intractable problems that have vexed our state for generations…This is a budget that all New Yorkers can be proud of. I commend Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Skelos and their colleagues in the Legislature for their hard work and leadership on reaching this agreement.”
The agreement will make teachers wait an extra year (four, not three) to become eligible for tenure, establishes a state-imposed model for turning around struggling schools, and increases education spending (though by how much, it remains unclear, somewhere between $1.4 billion and $1.6 billion).
Lawmakers were still working out exactly how school aid would be distributed; Heastie said there was yet not a deal over how much money would flow through the Foundation Aid formula, which prioritizes need and so helps urban districts, as opposed to restoring cuts from the Gap Elimination Adjustment, which hit suburban areas hardest.
The ethics deal is not anywhere near what watchdog groups say is needed to bolster Albany’s tattered image. It allows either of two state agencies to provide exemptions for a host of reasons, including keeping client information secret if disclosing the name of a client would amount to an “invasion of personal privacy” or if “undue harm” would be done to lawyer-client confidentiality.
For example, under the new ethics rules, legislators will be able to apply to the state’s Office of Court Administration for exceptions to disclosure of their law clients. Blanket exemptions are offered for clients on matrimonial cases, non-public criminal investigations, family court cases as well as wills and trusts.
Also new: A requirement that lawmakers swipe in to prove that they are in Albany to collect their $172 a day per diem.
This is the third ethics overhaul in the four years since Cuomo took office in January 2011.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will name Thomas Snyder, a labor organizer who was the “right-hand man” to former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn, as his new chief of staff. Snyder, 62, will replace Laura Santucci, who is heading to Rome, where she will work for the United Nations.
“If you believe in mayoral control, it shouldn’t matter who’s the mayor,” state Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch told the Daily News. “It’s the concept. It’s about ultimate accountability.”
The medical marijuana program regulations being drawn up by the state Department of Health are even more restrictive than some supporters had feared. “The administration continues to operate as though medical marijuana programs have never been operated before,” said Gabriel Sayegh, of the Drug Policy Alliance.
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said federal laws on political corruption are far ahead of state codes, allowing US Attorney Preet Bharara to clean up messes the state could just as easily be handling.
Mar 29th - 11:06 pm
State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a three-way framework budget agreement on Sunday night as the state heads toward the passage of its fifth on-time budget in as many years.
The budget includes a $1.6 billion spending increase for education, with $1.33 billion earmarked for school aid.
A number of the governor’s sought-after education and disclosure reforms were included in the finalized agreement with the Democratic-led Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate, though in altered forms.
Cuomo’s $1.5 billion proposal for upstate economic development also remains in the budget, which will be doled out on a competitive basis.
Overall, state spending in the budget is expected to grow by 2 percent over the current fiscal year, which ends Tuesday.
This appeared to be one of the more difficult spending plans for Cuomo to negotiate since he first took office in 2011.
Senate Republicans had been hesitant to embrace new disclosure proposals pushed in the wake of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s arrest on federal corruption charges.
Meanwhile, Assembly Democrats balked at a number of the education reform measures Cuomo had pushed.
But as the details emerge of the agreement from a senior administration official, Cuomo does appear to have won the inclusion of some of the education proposals, albeit with changes.
The agreement includes a new teacher evaluation criteria that will include both state-based tests as well as principal and independent observation. School districts can opt for a second test for teacher evaluations developed by the state Department of Education, according to an administration official.
However, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Sunday night said the deal would vest more power in the Department of Education to set the evaluation criteria.
Fully fleshed out details on the evaluation criteria are expected to be included in budget bills.
Teacher evaluation criteria would be tied to tenure: Three out of four years a teacher must be given a rating of at least “effective” in order to receive tenure.
On the inverse, teachers that are deemed to be “ineffective” for two years in a row could be removed within 90 days. Teachers rated ineffective for three years in a row could be removed within 30 days.
School districts must implement the new evaluation criteria by November, and doing so is linked to state education aid, the administration official said.
An administration official insisted on Sunday evening said the new evaluation criteria would need to be included in new contracts between teachers and districts, but would not be subject to collective bargaining with local units.
“It’s in the law,” the official said.
The budget includes a plan for school receivership. Schools deemed to be struggling or “failing” have a school district put forward a turn around plan to the state Department of Education, which could either approve the plan or have the school taken over by an independent monitor.
A NYC official briefed on the plan pointed some local control components for the city education chancellor.
The first batch of schools up for review would have to be deemed “failing” over the last 10 years, with the second batch deemed “failing” for the last three years.
The fight over education policy in the budget was one of the more pitched in recent years, as Cuomo tangled with the highly organized teachers unions both in the city and statewide.
Both the New York State United Teachers and the United Federation of Teachers accused Cuomo of strengthening charters at the expense of public education and as way of rewarding the deep-pocketed campaign contributors who also support charter networks.
While Assembly Democrats resisted the education proposals, Cuomo faced opposition to his disclosure of legal clients from Senate Republicans.
Cuomo in February first proposed a package of ethics reforms following the arrest of Silver, who is accused by federal prosecutors of masking legal referrals as bribes.
In the end, lawmakers agreed to report their legal clients to either the Joint Commission on Public Ethics or the Office of Court Administration.
Lawmakers could appeal to OCA if they feel their legal client does not have significant state interests, with that office ultimately determining whether the client’s name is redacted.
Both JCOPE and the OCA would report the information by 2016.
In the end, a lifting of the statewide cap on charter schools was not included in the final budget agreement, which could ultimately be tied to the re-approval of mayoral control in New York City, which expires in June.
At the same time, Cuomo was not able to win agreements on measures he proposed in January, including the passage of the DREAM Act, which provides tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants and the education investment tax credit, which is aimed at spurring donations that aid public schools and private-school scholarships.
The budget does not include a minimum wage increase or Cuomo’s proposal for property taxes through the circuit-breaker, which ties relief to a household’s income.
Cuomo acknowledged on Saturday this year’s budget was the toughest he’s negotiated in Albany, though state lawmakers over the last several days had said they were close to striking an agreement.
Messages of necessity for the remaining budget bills are expected to be issued, and voting will begin Monday.
Mar 29th - 5:44 pm
While we’re waiting for the white smoke to emanate from the state Capitol, indicating a budget deal has been reached, here are some headlines – most, but not all, of which are non-budget related – to peruse:
First responders recovered two bodies from the wreckage of Thursday’s explosion in the East Village. The mayor’s office and NYPD said they haven’t positively identified the remains and the notification was ongoing. Two people were reported missing following the fire, which destroyed three buildings on Second Avenue.
The Cyclone at Coney Island got stuck at the top of its track today, marring its season debut and forcing passengers to walk down the tracks to safety, according to images and accounts posted on social media.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio scrambled to the aid of a mounted NYPD officer after the cop’s horse flung him onto the pavement in the middle of today’s Greek Independence Day Parade. The officer suffered minor injuries to his right ankle and is in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital.
Cuomo and legislative leaders have reached an agreement on the health and mental hygiene portion of the state’s 2015-16 fiscal year budget, but still have yet to reach an agreement on some of the most controversial health care proposals elsewhere in the state’s $141.6 billion spending plan.
Comedian Louis C.K. and “Nightly Show” host Larry Wilmore added some heft to de Blasio’s patented dad humor Saturday night at the annual Inner Circle dinner.
Much of de Blasio’s act mocked his liberal agenda, including universal pre-kindergarten and a new relaxed marijuana policy. He also poked fun at rumors of the mayor’s marijuana use, quipping that he and his wife, Chirlane McCray, used celery every day at 4:20 p.m.
Potential Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley said the country needs fresh perspectives for confronting its problems, adding: “The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families.” (In other words, the Bushes and the Clintons).
Former secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton decided to “wipe her server clean” and permanently delete all e-mails from the personal server, according to the head of a House committee investigating the terrorist attacks in Benghazi, Libya.
Hillary dvisers are once again grappling with how to deploy former President Clinton, a strategic imperative that was executed so poorly in 2008 that it resulted in some of the worst moments of her campaign.
Fred LeBrun: “The real red herring here is the entire daft preoccupation during Cuomo’s tenure with formalizing ethical standards for the Legislature of a sufficient sort to pass some mythical muster. The trap here is obvious. We’ve been down this road so many times we know all the landmarks.”
As local school districts await word from Albany on state aid, some are developing multiple budget proposals based on best, worst and most likely scenarios.
Buffalo stands to benefit in several ways in the final budget deal, based on talks that are ongoing at the Capitol.
The retirement of US Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid could come with a gift to New York: the possibility Sen. Charles Schumer may succeed him in a role almost certain to bring increased influence to the state.
Schumer confirmed his is indeed a candidate for Reid’s leadership post, but told reporters: “I want to tell my constituents, that I will continue to work as hard as I always have for New York. It’s in my bones and it will not diminish in any way.”
Schumer is calling for passage of legislation to outlaw gender-based pay discrimination. He says a recent study shows that unfairness even extends to nursing, where males are paid more than female counterparts.
Wayne Barrett reveals 70 backers of former MetCouncil head Willie Rapfogel, who is in prison for looting some $9 million from the non profit – including 19 rabbis, several politicians, and some of the city’s and country’s most prominent leaders of Jewish organizations – petitioned Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to go easy on Rapfogel.
Slated for release Tuesday, “The Contender” (Twelve, $30, 539 pages), the unauthorized biography of Cuomo, probably isn’t the book employees of the executive chamber want to be spotted reading on their lunch hour.
The state Board of Elections, even though it voted more than a year ago to investigate the WNY Progressive Caucus, refuses to discuss the case because it was referred to its enforcement counsel.
A New York City law firm says it has filed a class action lawsuit accusing the Syracuse-based Dinosaur Bar-B-Que chain of failing to pay its tipped workers fair wages.
After an outcry over a plan to install a boldly colored, government-financed sculpture in Queens, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer intends to submit a bill to the City Council this week that would allow for more public comment on public art commissions.
De Blasio has scheduled press conferences, speeches or public events before 11 a.m. just 23 of 87 days this year. The mayor has admitted he’s “not a morning person.”
Cuomo’s signature economic development program, Start-Up NY, has been slow to start up in the Syracuse area. Just three companies of the 93 approved for the program so far are located in Central New York.
Queens Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz and Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder are looking to change a law that requires morgues and hospitals to hand over unclaimed bodies to educational institutions after as little as 48 hours.
Diplomats have 529 legal places to park in New York City — but still racked up more than $16 million in parking tickets. The city has issued 219,902 parking violations to diplomatic vehicles including 18,008 alone to Egypt which owes $1.97 million – the most of any country.
Rep. Grace Meng, who is Chinese-American, said she was “deeply troubled” by NYC Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo’s bizarre comments about a wave of Asians moving into NYCHA developments in her district.
A new NYC Council bill to be introduced by Manhattan’s Dan Garodnick would require the NYPD to publish its official patrol guide on its website.
Ginia Bellafante: “The Hedge Clippers will accomplish a great deal if they can simply turn the secretive few into the widely infamous.”
In an excerpt from his forthcoming memoir, former NYPD Commissioner Bernie Kerik recalls the disappointment and hurt experienced by he and his daughters when former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani rebuffed him due to his legal troubles.
Robert Moses, the bureaucrat-visionary who shaped the modern face of New York City, is the subject of a 105-page graphic biography published in English in December by Nobrow. It comes from France, where serious subjects often get the graphic-book treatment.
Mar 29th - 5:27 pm
State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo could not reach a deal on juvenile justice reform in the state budget, but are planning to fund the proposed change to the age of criminal responsibility in the state budget.
The budget includes a $25 million allocation for juvenile justice changes, which include the planned increase in the age of criminal responsibility.
Cuomo had initially proposed the raise the age effort in January and included the policy changes in his state budget.
However, the debate over reforms to the juvenile justice system proved to be deeply complex and, for now, are being pushed further down the legislative docket.
Despite what appears to be a partial victory, the campaign backing the effort to “Raise the Age” is not declaring this a win just yet.
“The proposal to raise the age at which youth are charged as adults in the criminal justice system has support from Right on Crime and the Nation; sheriffs and District Attorneys from across the state; unions; clergy; children’s advocates and civil rights leaders,” the group said in a statement. “We look forward to the Governor and Legislature getting raise the age done. Failing to do so is not an option, as it would shamefully leave New York as one of only two states where 16 year olds are charged as adults and would perpetuate bad outcomes with increased likelihood of youth re-offending and decreased public safety. Time is of the essence, we have an opportunity to be smart on crime and raise the age of criminal responsibility.”
Mar 29th - 9:56 am
Four budget bills were introduced before midnight on Saturday, while a broader deal on the state budget is yet to be reached.
Measures introduced last night include spending plans for the legislative and judiciary branches, aid to localities spending, health and mental hygiene and the revenue bill.
Gone from the budget framework is a property-tax rebate proposal akin to a “circuit-breaker” that would tie relief to a household’s income.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters on Saturday at the Capitol the property tax discussion, as well as a minimum wage increase, could be left for later in the legislative session, which runs through June.
Major aspects of the 2015-16 state spending are yet to be ironed out, however.
Lawmakers and Cuomo are yet to reach an agreement on education spending in the state, which is typically the final piece of the budget puzzle.
What makes this year different is that Cuomo is pushing for education reform measures in the budget – including a tougher teacher evaluation criteria and a receivership program for struggling (AKA “failing”) schools.
Assembly Democrats, in particular, have been hesitant to accept Cuomo’s education proposals.
We do know, however, that due to opposition in both houses, education spending in the budget is no longer linked to the reforms, and lawmakers expect to have a district-by-district breakdown of school aid – also known in Albany as “school runs” – in the coming days.
Cuomo had angered local education officials by refusing to release school runs this year, saying the numbers would be vastly different depending on whether lawmakers accepted or rejected his reform proposals. A number of those proposals have fallen off the budget negotiation table.
It is expected the final education aid increase will stand at around $1.4 billion, if not more.
At the same time, Cuomo is also pushing Senate Republicans to accept new disclosure measures for outside legal clients of state lawmakers.
As of Sunday morning, neither the massive education, labor and family assistance bill or the ethics bill has appeared in print — meaning both will likely require a message of necessity from Cuomo to waive the required three-day aging process if officials want to meet Tuesday’s on-time budget deadline.
Cuomo is due back in Albany later today after appearing at the Greek Independence Day Parade in his role as grand marshal.
Lawmakers are also due back to the Capitol later in the day to conference the latest in the budget talks.
UPDATE: The Assembly Democrats are scheduled to conference early this evening. The Senate Republicans are not conferencing again until tomorrow at noon.