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Legislature returns Tuesday after reports of some progress on major bills (Updates)

ALBANY - (Updates with comment from Gov. Cuomo)

The State Legislature will return Tuesday after progress was reported Monday by all sides following negotiations on major measures remaining in the legislative session.

"Until you're in the end zone, it doesn't count, but we made good progress," Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday night. "These are tough issues, but we're working through them."

Cuomo dismissed public statements by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who said his chamber's overriding priority is to renew and strengthen rent regulations for 2 million tenants and is reluctant to link disparate issues together in what is called a "big ugly" deal in Albany.

"It's not realistic," Cuomo said. "That's one house saying, 'I want what I want and I don't care what you want.' That seldom works in life, let alone in legislation."

Closed-door negotiations continued throughout Monday with legislative leaders meeting together for the first time in days with Cuomo. Cuomo had been seeking to make progress by meeting separately with Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.

Afterward, Heastie and Flanagan sounded more like deal makers than political leaders sticking hard to their positions, which marked the last several days of tense talks.

"A final product? No. Cogent discussions? Absolutely," Flanagan (R-East Northport) told reporters. "The speaker is being a gentleman, as is his staff. We're at a point where diplomacy, camaraderie can go a long way to a resolution."

"It's a little better than I said earlier," Heastie said after the late-afternoon meeting.

The 2015 legislative session had been scheduled to end nearly a week ago.

Staffs were working overnight on details of Monday's broader discussions behind closed doors. The major issues include renewing rent regulations that provide affordable rents for 2 million residents mostly in New York City. The law expired last week and an extension is due to expire Tuesday.

Assembly Democrats want to protect tenants from a "vacancy decontrol" measure in the law, which can trigger an apartment's release from rent regulations when the monthly rent tops $2,500. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, want to add income verification for residents to make sure the apartments are used by moderate income New Yorkers.

Cuomo said extending the property tax cap, a major issue for him and Senate Republicans, is tied to the rent measure.

Reporters asked Heastie (D-Bronx) if the education tax credit to help nonpublic schools is dead. The measure is a top priority for Cuomo and Senate Republicans, while Heastie's Assembly Democratic majority has strongly opposed the measure since it was first proposed. But on Monday, Heastie wasn't closing any doors.

"I don't want to say anything is not happening," Heastie said.

Cuomo said the issue is alive.

Heastie and Flanagan wouldn't comment further on talks until they brief their members on Tuesday. Any agreements could be voted on as early as Tuesday, but lawmakers have been told to prepare to stay in Albany beyond Tuesday.

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