ALBANY — The State Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo are planning to reconsider the extension of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft to Long Island, legislative pay raises, and several other measures after talks for a special session broke off abruptly Friday night.
The issues now will have to be dealt with in the regular session that starts Jan. 1, without the governor’s leverage over the legislature when a pay raise is on the table.
Those issues will include authorizing ride-sharing services on Long Island and upstate, where taxi companies have lobbied hard to restrict the growth of Uber and Lyft. The services can be hailed by a cellphone app using drivers who usually aren’t cabbies. The service is allowed in New York City.
The end of negotiations for a special session also means legislators won’t get their first pay raise since 1999 after tense talks that hardened feelings between the governor and lawmakers as they head into the 2017 session. Lawmakers had hoped for a raise in base pay to about $99,500 from the current $79,500.
But just as a special pay commission was expected to recommend a pay raise, Cuomo on Nov. 15 required the legislature to enact ethics measures and his other policy goals in exchange. That required the pay raise to be negotiated as part of a special session before a deadline of Dec. 31.
“While we have made some progress, those talks have not borne fruit,” Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said late Friday when the closed-door negotiations broke off. “While I believe many of the issues we have discussed have merit, some of the specific provisions have raised concerns that warrant further deliberation. We look forward to continuing those discussions when the legislature is scheduled to return in January.”
Another contentious issue is Cuomo’s proposal to create an inspector general who could investigate state procurement for corruption. Critics of the measure said Cuomo is trying to make a power grab to create more enforcers who are answerable only to him, as he reduces or restricts the independent oversight by state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
Shortly into the closed-door negotiations that began in late November, the Senate’s Republican majority rejected Cuomo’s move to limit outside income of lawmakers and the Assembly’s Democratic majority rejected his proposal for term limits. These proposals, long opposed in the legislature, aren’t expected to resurface in a regular session.
The process has drawn criticism from good-government groups and lawmakers in the Senate’s Democratic minority and the Assembly’s Republican minority. They complained about tying major policy to pay raises in a special session after the November elections and during the holidays when few New Yorkers would notice.
“Let’s fix the state constitution so end-of-session, postelection pay raise gamesmanship isn’t allowed,” said James Coll, of the good-government group ChangeNYS.org and an adjunct professor of American Constitutional history at Hofstra University, who had sued to try to stop the special session but lost in a lower state court.
“Any salary increase voted on by Albany lawmakers ... should not take place until after the voters have their say,” Coll said on Sunday. “The system as it is set up now allows for our fellow citizens to be left out of the equation — even though they are footing the bill.”