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Cuomo Says Charter School Protections Will Likely Be Most Contentious Issue in Budget Negotiations

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Governor Andrew Cuomo says protections he is seeking for charter schools will likely be the most contentious issue in this year's state budget negotiations, as in a direct challenge to Mayor Bill de blasio, the governor is looking to overturn his controversial decision to block three charters from co-locating in public schools. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

While the focus was on how much funding would be included in the state Senate's budget for universal pre-K, it was charter school protections inserted late in the game that may cause the most controversy.

"I think it's very important that they be allowed to continue, that they get the support they need and that the charter school movement itself can grow, and I think the state law should address that, and should address it through this budget process," said Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The charter school additions include a per pupil tuition increase, prohibiting charters that co-locate in public schools from having to pay rent, state facilities funding and protecting any charter school that was approved for a co-location prior to Mayor Bill de Blasio taking office.

The last point is potentially the most explosive, as it would overturn a decision that the mayor made to block three charter schools from expanding in traditional public school space.

"Well, if the governor wanted to run New York City and mayoral control, he should have ran for mayor of New York City," said Zakiyah Ansari of the Alliance for Quality Education. "This is not about gubernatorial control. This is about letting the mayor decide what he was by law willing to do."

The charter changes wound up sailing through the state Senate's one-house budget resolution. The non-binding document was passed after midnight Friday, when most people were not at the state Capitol.

The middle-of-the-night voting session took place after two days of waiting around for the state Senate to agree on what their one-house resolution would say. At one point, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver took it upon himself to amble over the Senate side of the building to personally inquire about what was taking so long. He did not welcome the move to overturn the mayor's decision on charters.

"It's shocking to me that they would get into that level of detail," Silver said.

This week, Governor Andrew Cuomo shifted the conversation about the budget away from universal pre-K and towards charter schools, where there are some serious disagreements, disagreements that must be resolved in the next two weeks if there is going to be an on-time budget.

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