Governor Andrew Cuomo signed "Raise the Age" legislation in Harlem Monday. Zack Fink filed the following report.
As Governor Andrew Cuomo appeared in Harlem to take a victory lap on Raise the Age, some of the same tensions that overshadowed budget talks over the last two weeks were still on display.
Cuomo confirmed what NY1 first reported nearly a week and a half ago, that legislative leaders were more than willing to kick Raise The Age legislation out of the budget to strike a deal.
"Raise the Age was so hard to do. And it was in the budget, and we had to get the budget done, that legislative leaders basically gave up on it," Cuomo said. "And the legislative leaders said, 'You know what, we'll leave it until after the budget. We'll leave something called 421-a, the affordable housing, we'll take that out of the budget, and we'll take Raise the Age out of the budget."
A spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie denied he ever agreed to take Raise the Age out of the budget. Heastie, who has also claimed victory on Raise the Age, wasn't at Cuomo's signing Monday. But State Senator Jesse Hamilton, aligned with a breakaway Democratic Senate faction, was.
Cuomo was also joined by the Rev. Al Sharpton.
"This is a big deal. This is historic. And this is how we make America move toward greatness," Sharpton said.
Cuomo also took aim at his rival, Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has called for closing the jail complex on Rikers Island in 10 years. The new Raise the Age law stipulates that 16- and 17-year-olds must be out of Rikers in two years.
"Rikers Island is an abomination," Cuomo said. "And don't tell me it is going to take 10 years to fix that abomination."
We will likely see a lot of Cuomo this week at public events pushing his I-got-everything-I-wanted-in-the-budget narrative. And while that is mostly true, there are some who believe he is also attempting to distract from the fact that this budget was contentiously negotiated, and was also nine days late.