Legislative leaders announce end-of-session deal

Legislative leaders announce end-of-session deal

Legislative leaders announce end-of-session deal
June 17, 2016

Late Friday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders announced an agreement on a host of issues as lawmakers rushed to finish their work before ending the legislative session for 2016.

“From capital funding for our college campuses to supportive housing for the most vulnerable populations, this legislative package addresses critical needs that will have a meaningful impact in every corner of the state,” Cuomo said in a statement sent out to reporters via email shortly after 8:00 p.m. So far this week, all deals have been announced through press release by Cuomo and it was unclear if he would hold a press conference to announce the deal and answer reporters questions.

The main point of contention between Cuomo and the legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, has been the extension of mayoral control of New York City schools. The leaders ultimately agreed to another one-year extension, but also included a requirement that the city publish community school districts spending information within their proposed budget and on their website. The Assembly had wanted a three-year extension without any new transparency requirements.

“ … We believe that a one-year extension of mayoral control with reforms that require school-by school budget data to promote greater fiscal transparency is in the best interest of students and their parents,” state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said in a statement. “This debate has always been about ensuring that school children in New York City receive a first-class education that prepares them for the rest of their lives, and this agreement moves us closer to that goal.”

There were earlier reports that the deal on mayoral control was ultimately accepted by legislative leaders in exchange for an additional $50 million in funding for capital projects on SUNY and CUNY campuses, which was also included in the agreement.

“This agreement will build on our successes earlier this session and help move New York forward so that our families can grow and thrive,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said in a statement. “This is a comprehensive package of proposals that will ensure stability for our schools, help keep our SUNY and CUNY institutions top notch, provide critical housing for people in need, and help keep our communities safe and secure.”

The deal also came with more details about the allocation of supportive housing money that was included in the budget. Housing advocates have been pushing to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the allocation of $2 billion in funds. While state Sen. Jeff Klein said earlier this week it would not get done before the end of session, the deal does include an agreement for an MOU to make $570 million of that funding available to advance capital construction and operating on the first 1,200 units of supportive housing.

The agreement also includes provisions to help prevent people from losing their homes and expedites the rehabilitation, repair and improving of bank-owned, foreclosed houses, commonly known as “zombie homes.”

Some outstanding education issues were also included. Cuomo and the leaders reached an agreement to require testing for lead in schools, though it does not specify how often these tests will be required in the press release. It will also require reporting of the results to parents and local and state entities. There was a holdup on this issue previously because some criticized it as an unfunded mandate. The state will pay a portion of the testing and remediation costs and will reimburse costs in emergency situations.

Calling the current process to authorize and reauthorizing charter schools “outdated and inflexible,” the agreement also will allow “high-performing charter schools in good standing” to switch to a different oversight and regulatory entity, such as the SUNY Board of Trustees or the state Board of Regents.

Lastly, the agreement will extend the state control of the New York State Racing Association until October 18, 2017, and authorizes the Dormitory of the State of New York to serve as a building code agent on the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center project to mitigate potential delays and costs.

Left out of the agreement is a change in the state’s insurance law to expand ridesharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, to upstate New York and a deal to legalize daily fantasy sports.

A version of the ridesharing bill passed the state Senate earlier today, but it remains unlikely the Assembly will pass the same version. Daily fantasy sports passed the Assembly earlier today too, but its fate remains uncertain in the state Senate. Sources have told City & State there may not be enough votes for the bill to pass among state Senate Republicans, but state Sen. John Bonacic has said he has the votes needed.

Cuomo and legislative leaders also announced an agreement on ethics reform Friday night. You can read about themhere.

The bills still need to be printed, message of necessities need to be issued, but both the Assembly and state Senate have said they will pass bills through the night so that members don’t have to come back tomorrow.

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Ashley Hupfl
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