NY Lawmakers Hustle to Find Compromises Ahead of Adjournment

ALBANY (AP) -

Negotiations over New York City schools, ethics reforms and a long list of other issues entered their final round Wednesday as New York lawmakers rushed to finish their work for the year.

The Senate and Assembly hope to adjourn Thursday or Friday — but first they must find resolution on whether to extend a policy giving Mayor Bill de Blasio control of the city’s public schools. Meanwhile, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and top lawmakers continued to discuss possible ethics reforms to address Albany’s chronic corruption problem.

Supporters of other measures gathered to make their final pitch to lawmakers. Advocates of a proposal to ban toxins in toys inflated a giant rubber duck near the state Capitol, while dozens of nurses arrived to lobby for a bill that would mandate minimum staffing levels at hospitals and nursing homes.

“We have two more days,” said Tara Martin, political director for the State Nurses Association. “We are running out of time.”

Cuomo and top lawmakers have already reached agreements on bills to combat drug addiction, expand cancer screening and allow restaurants to sell alcohol before noon on Sundays. Those measures likely will win formal passage on Thursday, the day lawmakers hope to adjourn.

Mayoral control of schools in New York City is the thorniest remaining issue. The Assembly’s Democratic majority and Cuomo favor a three-year extension, while the Senate’s Republican leaders have suggested a one-year renewal. They signaled this week they would be open to a three-year extension, but only if it was accompanied by concessions such as a tax break for private school tuition.

Proposals to address government corruption continued to languish Wednesday, despite polls showing the issue is important to voters. Plans for tighter campaign finance rules remain on the table, however, and Cuomo has called them a priority.

Lawmakers are likely to work late into the night Thursday — and perhaps into the day Friday — to close out their session. Until then lawmakers and lobbyists alike will look for leverage in the hopes of pushing legislation over the finish line.

“Everybody wants to go home. I understand that,” said Queens Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, a Democrat. “But you don’t go home with unfinished business.”