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Cuomo calls special session after NYC, sales tax stalemate

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on June 19, 2017.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on June 19, 2017. Photo Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

ALBANY — After failing to extend mayoral control of New York City schools last week at the end of the legislative session, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday ordered the Legislature back into special session to extend the 15-year-old law before it expires on Thursday.

In a special session Wednesday, Cuomo can introduce a straight bill to continue mayoral control without the state Senate’s insistence on adding more charter schools as a condition or the Assembly’s insistence that mayoral control be tied to extending local sales tax re-authorizations.

Cuomo issued the formal declaration Tuesday. Cuomo seeks a one-year extension, which is all that Mayor Bill de Blasio has received during his term. If mayoral control lapses, city schools would again be governed by community boards, which state and city leaders agreed weren’t as effective for the city’s 1.1 million students.

Legislative leaders wouldn’t say if there is a deal on mayoral control, which they and Cuomo had said would be a requirement for returning to Albany.

“We will review whatever the governor sends,” said Michael Whyland, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx).

Though no other matters are contained in the declaration, lawmakers also are likely to consider renewal of county sales tax rates — an issue that was entangled in the negotiations over New York City schools. Fifty-three counties, including Nassau and Suffolk, otherwise would see their sales tax authorizations expire later this year.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone wrote legislative leaders Tuesday, saying failure to approve the county’s tax authorization would blow a $300 million hole in the 2018 budget. Bellone said he didn’t want the county tax to be used as a “bargaining chip.”

The New York State Association of Counties said the local tax re-authorizations must be part of the special session for the good of taxpayers.

“The continued inaction, uncertainty and lack of leadership at the state level will do nothing to prevent increased property taxes, keep families here, attract jobs or improve the quality of life in our great state,” said Stephen Acquario, executive director of the group that represents county leaders.

A Cuomo official said the governor already has discussed the special session with Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) and Heastie. The regular session ended last Wednesday.

In his proclamation, Cuomo also said the session would consider “such other subjects as I may recommend.”

Cuomo has often cited the the lack of gridlock and lack of specical sessions as a point of pride after years in which gridlock and special sessions were almost routine.

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