heastierubikscube

From the Morning Memo:

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, appropriately enough, was sitting at the back of the chamber on Thursday night solving a Rubik’s cube.

The accountant by trade can solve the cube in under five minutes and he was twisting and turning ts sides with little effort to make the colors match.

A grand compromise — or “big ugly” in Albany parlance — has been a harder puzzle to solve for Heastie and his fellow rookie legislative leader, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.

Heastie and Flanagan, along with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, announced a temporary stop-gap measure for extending rent control regulations as well as the 421a tax abatement in New York City and several surrounding counties until Tuesday.

“We just wanted more time to negotiate,” he said. “Whether it’s going to be Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, we were still going to be continuing the talks.”

The extra few days could help.

“I won’t be happy until we get some real rent laws that protect tenants in the city of New York,” said Assembly Housing Committee Chairman Keith Wright. “This five-day extender gives us all in the Legislature a chance to fight another day.”

Lawmakers and Cuomo remain apart on key issues like rent control and the real-estate tax abatement, which lapsed on Monday at midnight. At the same time, legislators and the governor must consider the soon-to-expire mayoral control of New York City schools as well as the education tax credit, which Cuomo has linked to stronger rent control regulations.

The extension, albeit temporary, was something of a breakthrough for a week that has seen few agreements save for deals on legislation aimed at combating rape and sexual assault on college campuses as well as new protections for workers in nail salons.

“I think it shows the willingness of myself, the governor and Senator Flanagan to come to an agreement on a number of issues,” Heastie said of the deal.

It also brings some breathing room for Cuomo, who had cancelled his appearance at a fundraiser previously scheduled in New York City in order to attend to the negotiations (the fundraiser itself still went off).

Cuomo had pledged to use his power to keep state lawmakers in Albany should an agreement on rent control not be reached.

Now, he won’t have either Senate Republicans leaving town with lapsed regulations, nor will he have to force them to stay at the Capitol and simply gavel in and out (some lawmakers were comparing that potential situation to the days of Gov. David Paterson).

But whether this brings Senate Republicans around to a longer term extension of the existing regulations remains to be seen.

Assembly Democrats are pushing for an end to vacancy decontrol, while Senate Republicans approved a measure this week that would require income and residency verification for those who live in rent-controlled units.

Heastie was unsure whether this agreement could portend a larger deal on rent and the other remaining issues.

“I appreciate the fact that Senator Flanagan thought that while we’re still talking we should try to give a show of good faith to two and a half million people we should try to get something done,” he said.