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Lawmakers Hammering Out Deal On Pre-K Funding For N.Y. State Budget

The New York state Capitol in Albany (credit: Getty Images)

The New York state Capitol in Albany (credit: Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York state legislative leaders said Wednesday they were closing in on a deal to fund pre-kindergarten, and discussing a delay to Common Core academic standards as they tried to finalize budget bills this week.

Republican Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday evening that they were closing down issues, but the leaders remained vague on details. Legislative budget committees were scheduled to meet Wednesday night.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said earlier that they expect to be ready to print budget bills by Friday. That would allow the Legislature to vote on a budget by Monday, the day before the state’s new fiscal year begins.

Senate co-leader Jeff Klein (D-The Bronx) said the Senate is moving toward a $300 million funding target for pre-kindergarten in New York City, which would be $40 million less than what New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had sought.

The Republican-controlled Senate has refused to agree to de Blasio’s plan for a tax on the rich to fund it.

Skelos said they are also trying to make sure Long Island and upstate school districts are treated fairly under the deal.

Silver said they were discussing a delay or some other changes of the more rigorous Common Core standards, which have been criticized by parents and teachers around the state.

“We’re talking about doing something so that the testing that takes place in April will be less dramatic, less traumatic, to the student,” said Silver, whose chamber already passed a bill to delay portions of the standards.

The leaders also were talking about ways to help charter schools and make sure they have the ability to operate in public school buildings, an issue that flared up after de Blasio revoked three charter schools’ applications to co-locate in public school buildings.

Sources told CBS 2 that Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants the mayor to settle three lawsuits brought by charter operator Eva Moskowitz, find space for Moskowitz’s three Success Academy charter schools de Blasio nixed, and restore $210 million in charter funding.

If the mayor does not act, source said, Cuomo and the Senate will use the state budget to protect charter schools – finding them both space and money.

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