Outside Income Disclosure the Final Barrier in State Budget Negotiations
As the deadline for the state budget looms, one of the few remaining items to be holding back an agreement is Governor Andrew Cuomo's push for state lawmakers to reveal more about their outside income. Meanwhile, a contentious fight over teacher evaluations appears close to being settled. NY1's Zack Fink filed this report.
After weeks of bluster from Governor Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Democrats on education reform, the two sides seem close to a compromise plan.
"My sense is the membership can live with it. I certainly can live with it. We were very upset with the original plan of putting so much emphasis, as much as 50 percent, on high stakes testing," says Assemblyman David Weprin.
The governor has insisted that teacher evaluations be strengthened ,but the criteria for assessing teachers has been the source of a bitter fight. Now, lawmakers want to create what is known as a "Berger Commission" to determine how evaluations would work. It would consist of members appointed by the governor and both houses of the legislature, and they would report their findings in June.
"I think it is certainly a way to have a little time to look at it maybe without the heat of the budget," says Assemblyman Cathy Nolan.
The governor has softened his stance about enacting reforms or risking a late budget, but he has tied an increase in education funding to some version of reform.
"We don't believe that policy should be linked to appropriations. This is something I have been saying to all of you for months now. Since I became speaker, I have been concerned, but that was the governor's decision to do that," says Speaker Carl Heastie.
Cuomo continues to threaten a late budget if he doesn't get ethics reform passed, however. The holdup comes from Senate Republicans who are objecting to income disclosure requirements that include listing clients for lawmakers who are lawyers.
On Wednesday, though, there appeared to be at least a framework for an agreement.
"It is not a situation that some thought it was that it is going to blow up an on time budget. That's not the situation," says state Senator John DeFrancisco.
The budget is due next Wednesday, which means the time to reach a deal, print the bills and begin voting is getting narrower with each passing day. However, we are not yet in the danger zone of risking a late budget. That will happen if there is no deal by the weekend.