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Senators: Legislative session could spill past this week

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) arrives

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) arrives for a meeting at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office in the Capitol on Thursday, June 18, 2015. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY - (Updates with comments from Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan)

With a stalemate lingering, Republican senators said Thursday they could leave the Capitol this week without resolving rent control and other high-profile issues.

"We'll stay late tonight to pass bills, then probably leave until later," one senator said after a lengthy closed-door Republican strategy session.

That could serve to pressure Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie if they want to have an orderly end to the session this week.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said he hadn't yet told senators to go home Thursday night, but he said it's an option.

"I believe that the business we need to do can be finished tonight," Flanagan said Thursday afternoon after meeting privately with Cuomo.

Flanagan added: "I wouldn't say we were done negotiating . . .  will stay and work with the governor and the speaker to get done whatever we need to get done."

Earlier Thursday, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) met separately with Cuomo.

"We are nowhere near a resolution," Heastie said Thursday morning. "I expect to be here tomorrow."

Lawmakers already are overdue on rent control and other laws that expired Monday. They were scheduled to conclude the 2015 legislative session Wednesday but still had not resolved some key issues.

Now, with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and legislative leaders reporting little progress in negotiating sessions, legislators said it is possible they might have to return another week -- once there is an agreement.

The threat to leave Albany also could be a tactic to prod Democrats.

Struggling to find a compromise, Cuomo and leaders discussed adding a hodgepodge of unrelated proposals to combine in a package with enough goodies for  rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans to support, legislators said.

The potential mix included amendments to gun-control laws and teacher evaluations; more charter schools, more money for upstate schools and a tax deduction for donations to private schools; and property-tax adjustments to consider household incomes.

Like rent-control, the law that gives Mayor Bill de Blasio control over New York City schools also expired Monday.

But now that the deadline is blown, legislators said the only pressure to resolve things quickly is the desire to wind down a tumultuous session that saw the indictment of two house leaders.

Flanagan said he would consider the session success, even without more agreements.

Flanagan noted the Senate passed an eight-year extension of rent control for middle class residents in New York City along with new provisions requiring income verification and proof that the lower-rent apartment is the resident's primary home. He also noted the Senate voted to make the property tax cap permanent and voted for an education tax credit to benefit nonpublic schools.

"I believe we have served our constituents ably and well," he said.

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