What Do Senate Republicans Want?
Senate Republicans will return to Albany later this month in the catbird seat as a range of issues important to Democratic lawmakers are due to expire in June, including mayoral control of New York City schools and laws governing rent control.
The majority conference in the chamber, for the most part, got what they wanted in the 2015-16 state budget agreement.
The cuts for school districts in the Gap Elimination Adjustment were closed by 50 percent, with the proviso the rest would be taken care of next year — a key campaign pledge for the conference during last year’s elections
“That was our overarching goal,” Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan said last week. “We came to a compromise as we always do.”
Consider, too, that the block of the Senate’s nine-member Long Island delegation won a $400 million infusion of state economic development funds.
Then there is what Republicans were able to get out of the budget talks.
The DREAM Act was not made law. A minimum wage increase was avoided. Disclosure of outside legal clients was pushed to a prospective basis following extended negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Asked last week about his own priorities in the post-budget session, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos named the education investment tax credit, which had been tied to the DREAM Act in the state budget.
“One of my priorities is the education tax credit, which will be brought up in the post-budget session,” Skelos said, “As will mayoral control, as will rent. A lot of other issues will be brought up.”
The investment tax credit, which is aimed at encouraging donations to public schools and non-profit scholarship programs for private schools, remains a heavy lift for Assembly Democrats, who already trying to calm the statewide teachers union for approving a variety of Cuomo’s education reform proposals.
Senate Republicans may also want to win a version of their property-tax rebate proposal, which at one point was going to be linked to a minimum wage increase or the DREAM Act.
Nevertheless, Senate Republicans got their victories in the state budget process and have little incentive to roll over now on helping their political nemesis, Mayor Bill de Blasio, win a lengthy or permanent extension of mayoral control.
Already, mayoral control for city schools may be tied to a lifting of the cap on charter schools.
They have shown zero willingness to make agreements on the DREAM Act, which provides tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants and was a campaign issue that seized upon last year.
Senate Republicans still must work with Assembly Democrats on the issue of rent control, given that it is ultimately tied to the state’s cap on property tax increases.
But a variety of Democratic goals, including criminal justice reforms that were pushed in the aftermath of the Eric Garner grand jury decision, could prove difficult to get through the Senate.
In short, Senate Republicans are in an enviable situation: They have a number of leverage points to take advantage of, and few issues they need to get done politically or governmentally this June.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on April 7, 2015 at 12:38 pm, and is filed under State Senate. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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