67° Good Morning
67° Good Morning

Talking politics with one of Albany's three men in the room

Speaker Carl Heastie on Feb. 3, 2015, at

Speaker Carl Heastie on Feb. 3, 2015, at the Capitol in Albany. Credit: Albany Times Union / Skip Dickstein

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie met with the Newsday Editorial Board Tuesday. Heastie is letting Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo know he doesn't want to see so many policy issues stuffed into the governor's budget, a powerful tool to push through new laws. Heastie said he has privately told Cuomo, "I hope you don't load up next year's budget with a lot of stuff we should be doing legislatively."

This tactic "puts a gun to legislators' heads," Heastie said, because the choice becomes either to pass a budget extender or to shut down government. The biggest political blowup of Cuomo's tenure as governor -- evaluating public school teachers -- could have been avoided, Heastie said. "Teacher evaluations would have been better if I hadn't had a gun to my head."

The Assembly speaker also said:

-- Cuomo's new NY Education Reform Commission probably won't decouple student test scores from teacher evaluations.

-- Ninety percent of persistently underperforming schools are in economically struggling districts. "They didn't all hit the lottery on bad teachers," he said. The speaker wants to look at education, health and poverty together to find a solution. "The governor is beginning to understand that," he said.

-- The MTA five-year capital plan should be fully funded, and NYC has to pay its share, but he wouldn't break down who has to give what. Heastie wouldn't rule out a new tax and said he expects bonding the capital plan to be considered as well. (Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan was a lot clearer Wednesday morning when he backed up Cuomo's demand that NYC pay more.)

-- Homelessness in NYC is going to be "front and center" in the next legislative session, and Heastie expects Mayor Bill de Blasio to request more state money, more than the $1 billion funded. But the speaker wants to see more delivered in terms of better-quality shelters and social services.

This is an excerpt from The Point, the editorial board's inside look at politics and policy in New York. The newsletter is sent out each afternoon, Monday through Friday. To subscribe, click here.