Cuomo Calls For Special Session Of Legislature Over Mayoral Control Of NYC Schools

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling for a special session of the New York state Legislature Wednesday to introduce a bill to extend Mayor Bill de Blasio’s control over New York City schools for one year.

The governor issued a proclamation Tuesday morning ordering lawmakers back into session.

As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, the 213 members of the state legislature were five days into their summer vacation when Cuomo came calling.

He wants them back at the capitol Wednesday to avert a leadership crisis and extend mayoral control of the schools for another year.

“The Governor is calling an extraordinary legislative session for Wednesday, June 28 to take up the issue of Mayoral Control,” Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, said in a statement. “The Governor has discussed the extraordinary session with the legislative leaders.”

Last week, Cuomo said it was a “dereliction of duty” for lawmakers to end their 2017 session without a deal to extend mayoral control of city schools.

“For a body that talks so much about education to leave without an agreement… is just the height of irresponsibility,” Cuomo said last Thursday.

With the much reviled board of education scheduled to be reconstituted on Saturday unless Albany acts, Cuomo is calling lawmakers back to give the mayor a one year extension on running the city schools.

The governor originally sought a three year extension, while Mayor de Blasio wanted it made permanent.

Top lawmakers from both parties agree on the benefits of mayoral control yet they couldn’t agree on an extension. Senate Republicans wanted to tie an extension to the authorization of more charter schools. Assembly Democrats balked at that idea, but tried to link the extension to the renewal of local sales taxes, a move that irked Senate Republicans.

In the end, the Assembly and Senate each passed their own legislation to extend the policy, but did not take up the other chamber’s version.

“This may not be a perfect system, mayoral control, but the alternative is the board of education and that’s worse,” the governor said before Sunday’s NYC Pride March.

If the policy does expire on June 30, control of city schools would revert to a single board of education and dozens of community school boards.  The city estimates that could create $1.6 billion in added administrative costs over 10 years.

Supporters of mayoral control say it has led to higher academic performance and programs such as universal pre-kindergarten.

Cuomo noted that mayoral control lapsed once before in 2009, but was quickly reinstated by lawmakers before a significant impact was felt.

Top lawmakers have said they will consider returning to Albany, though Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie said that as of last Thursday afternoon there was no definite plan to reconvene.

“It remains our desire not to return as we are very comfortable with the bill that we passed,” Heastie said in a statement. “However, if the Governor and/or the Senate is asking us to engage, we would be derelict in our duties not to consider those requests.”

This may not be the only time lawmakers are forced back into Albany. Still unresolved is extending upstate sales taxes and nearly $8 billion worth of city taxes, including the personal income taxes and levies on cigarettes and beauty services that expire in the fall.

Meanwhile, one of the mayor’s Democratic opponents is giving de Blasio low marks for making the extension of mayoral control an annual tug of war with Albany.

“I have a grade for him, which is an ‘F’,” Sal Albanese said Tuesday. “His toxic relationship with the governor and the legislature has made it impossible for this to be passed in the normal course of events.”

Albanese claims the mayor’s inability to negotiate with lawmakers is “political malpractice.”

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg first won mayoral control in 2002 with a seven year term and then got a six year extension. Since taking office, de Blasio has received only one year extensions.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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