Assembly Democrats Roll Out Spending Priorities, Leave Out Ethics Reform

With an April 1st deadline looming to pass an on-time budget, State Assembly Democrats are rolling out the details of their own spending priorities. They include a sizable extension for mayoral control of city schools, but little in the way of ethics reform despite the indictment of their longtime leader, former Speaker Sheldon Silver. NY1’s Zack Fink filed the following report.

Assembly Democrats want a higher minimum wage than Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing, more money for education, and an extension of mayoral control of New York City schools for another seven years.

Cuomo has proposed extending mayoral control for just three years.

"We feel like Mayor de Blasio shouldn't be treated any differently than Mayor Bloomberg. Mayor Bloomberg was given more than three years so to provide the kind of stability to mayor wants to particularly turn around failing schools we feel that three years, more than three years is appropriate,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Last month, de Blasio testified in Albany that he would like to make mayoral control permanent. First adopted in 2002 in response to widespread corruption within local community school boards, some lawmakers believe the state still needs to maintain a level of control over the city.

"We also should remember that just because we have a mayor now who we all believe is really committed to public education and opening up the doors that the previous administration didn't open, he's not always going to be the mayor,” said Sen. Diane Savino.

The assembly's priorities were laid out as part of their budget resolution, which is expected to pass the chamber this week. The senate is expected to follow suit with its own plan.

The Assembly resolution had little in the way of ethics reform. In the wake of a wave of corruption scandals, Cuomo put an ethics plan into the budget, and has threatened a late budget if his plan isn't accepted.

"We haven't come to a final position on, you know, on ethics. You know, it was the governor who decided to put, you know, policy, you know, into the budget which is something the legislature probably doesn’t prefer to do,” said Heastie.

The governor's ethics plan calls for more disclosure from lawmakers about their outside income. Some feel that is not a solution to rooting out corruption.

"Some of the proposals in my mind either need to be explained to me more accurately or they simply need to be thrown out the window because I don't want to do ethics reform simply to go before the public and say 'See, we did ethics reform,” said Assemblyman Matthew Titone of Staten Island.

The one house budget resolutions are really symbolic in nature. The idea is to establish a starting point for budget negotiations which will take place over the next several weeks. The budget is due April 1st.

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