What Do Assembly Democrats Want?
The question really ought to be, “What don’t Assembly Democrats want?”
Rank-and-file Assembly Democrats last week insisted they had negotiated out some of the more controversial and, for them, problematic education policy changes that Gov. Andrew Cuomo had sought.
But the Democratic conference in the Assembly remains miffed over a number of slights from the state budget process: The DREAM Act fell off the table during the talks with little fanfare, a minimum wage hike never came to fruition and changes to the state’s grand jury process when it comes to police-related deaths never really came out of an embryonic stage.
Assembly Democrats now face a statewide teachers union that is angered by the education reform measures and will be pushing hard for legislation that makes it easier for students to opt-out of state tests, thus diluting the impact the tests have on the revamped performance evaluations.
On top of that, juvenile justice policy changes — including an effort to raise the age of criminal responsibility — will be a top issue for the conference to has out as well.
Democrats, too, must work with Senate Republicans on an extension of rent control laws for New York City and help one of their top elected allies — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — gain an extension of mayoral control for city schools.
To be sure, Assembly Democrats have not alienated the New York State United Teachers union to the same degree Cuomo has, or to the point where NYSUT is considering primaries against some members. The United Federation of Teachers, which represents New York City teachers, also remain steadfast allies with the Assembly Democrats, especially newly elected Speaker Carl Heastie.
But coinciding with that will likely be a renewed effort to boost the number of charter schools statewide. Cuomo had initially sought lifting the cap by 100 in the state budget, a proposal that could now be tied to mayoral control.
The cap issue is not one charter schools are believed to be pushing especially hard for compared to, say, a boost in per pupil tuition aid, but it remains a point of leverage for Senate Republicans in taking on the mayoral control issue.
The 100-plus member conference faced one of its biggest crises in a generation after the ouster of longtime Speaker Sheldon Silver in the past three months following his arrest on corruption charges.
His toppling could have created a severe power vacuum and a delay in a budget agreement — but the wheels of state government were able to grind on.
Despite the grumbling over education, Heastie remains well-liked by the Democratic conference that just elected to become one of the three most powerful men in the state.
He has 100 different voices to wrangle in a post-budget session and the personal experience now of negotiating directly with Cuomo. June will be a busy month in Albany, but doubly so for Assembly Democrats.
From earlier: What do Senate Republicans want?
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on April 7, 2015 at 2:01 pm, and is filed under Assembly. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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