Deal Extends Mayoral Control Over NYC Schools for 1 Year

ALBANY (AP/Hamodia) -

A deal to extend control over New York City’s schools to the mayor came in the early hours of Friday as the state legislative session was winding down for 2016. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers agreed to a one-year extension, far less than the seven years wanted by Mayor Bill de Blasio or the three years backed by Cuomo and Assembly Democrats.

The policy, first enacted in 2002, was even harsher for de Blasio than last year’s extension, also for only one year. Republicans in the Senate added a requirement that city schools publish information on their spending.

The session was scheduled to end Thursday but dragged into Friday when lawmakers and Cuomo struggled to craft a compromise on mayoral control.

Some other major issues lawmakers confronted during the 2016 New York legislative session:

• The state’s minimum wage will go from $8 to $15 over three years in New York City — businesses with fewer than 10 employees will get four years — and over six years on Long Island and in Westchester County. Upstate, the wage increases to $12.50 over five years, and then increases to $15 based on a timeframe determined by economic indicators. To offset the wage hike, a middle-class tax cut will be phased in for New Yorkers with an income between $40,000 and $300,000.

• Starting in 2018, workers will become eligible to take paid time off to care for a new child or sick relative. The benefit, which will top out at 12 weeks, will be funded by worker payroll contributions that will cost from 70 cents a week up to $1.40. Benefits will start at 50 percent of an employee’s average weekly wage, capped at half the statewide average weekly wage, rising to 67 percent in 2021.

• The budget contains $24.8 billion for public schools, an increase of $1.5 billion. A private school tuition aid pushed by Senate Republicans never materialized.

• Restaurants and bars will be able to serve alcohol beginning at 10 a.m. on Sundays, two hours earlier than under current law.

• Hospitals throughout the state will have to expand hours for women’s cancer screening, and insurance co-pays and deductibles for the procedure will be scrapped.

• Opioid prescriptions will be limited to seven days and insurance changes will make it easier for addicts to get treatment. The state budget contains $189 million for expanded prevention and treatment efforts.

• Lawmakers have begun the process of placing a Constitutional amendment on the ballot to strip the pensions from crooked lawmakers. They also voted to strengthen rules governing independent political organizations, require political consultants to identify clients and expand lobbyist disclosure rules.