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Cuomo: Teacher evaluations a priority

A file photo of New York Governor Andrew

A file photo of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. (Sept. 10, 2011) Credit: Getty Images

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Wednesday the issue of disclosing teacher-evaluation reports is the most likely high-profile item to be resolved before the end of the 2012 legislative session.

The Democrat said proposals to hike the state's minimum wage and enact a public campaign-finance system face longer odds.

Cuomo repeated his view that with most of the big-ticket items for 2012 -- redistricting, pension changes, a tax-rate overhaul -- settled early, the home stretch of the session could be quiet by comparison.

But he said the question of teacher-evaluation disclosure "has to be answered this session" -- though he didn't indicate a compromise was near. The session is slated to end June 21.

Lawmakers approved a new teacher-evaluation system earlier this year. Courts have ruled that the evaluations would be accessible through a Freedom of Information request. But Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) have suggested access could be limited just to parents of students.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) has said he favors no restrictions on public release of teacher evaluations.

Cuomo said the issue is closer to resolution than the other high-profile items simply because lawmakers have "diametrically opposed" positions on the others.

Silver is pushing to raise the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour. Cuomo said he "philosophically" favors a hike, but hasn't committed to Silver's plan, which would also index future raises to inflation.

Skelos has called the proposal "a job killer" -- but he's also advocating a series of small-business tax cuts, setting up a potential compromise.

Democrats also are pushing a bill to publicly finance campaigns. They say it will limit the impact of rich donors and deep-pocketed special interests. Skelos said he doesn't want taxpayers' paying for campaigns.

Cuomo said it's "going to be difficult to get an agreement" on the issue.

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