NY Lawmakers OK NYC Schools Deal, Mario Cuomo Bridge Name

What to Know

  • Mayoral control of schools in New York City would be renewed for another two years under legislation approved Thursday by state lawmakers
  • The 15-year-old policy giving New York City's mayor control of city schools was set to expire Friday if lawmakers hadn't voted to renew it
  • The Republican-controlled Senate passed the bill Thursday afternoon, after the Democrat-led Assembly; Cuomo is expected to sign the bill

Mayoral control of schools in New York City would be renewed for another two years and the new Tappan Zee Bridge would be named after the late Gov. Mario Cuomo under legislation approved Thursday by state lawmakers.

The measure also includes a two-year extension of the policy giving the mayor of New York City control over his city's schools, as well as $55 million to help upstate communities affected by recent flooding and help for an upstate race track and casino. It passed the Assembly and the Senate on Thursday and was promptly signed into law by the Democratic governor.

The new name for the state's newest bridge comes two years after the elder Cuomo died. Cuomo said the tribute would have made his father uncomfortable.

"He would say, 'I don't want a bridge named after me,'" Cuomo told reporters, adding that his father's official state portrait was painted from a photograph after his father refused to pose for it, considering the painting an act of vanity.

The elder Cuomo served as governor from 1983 to 1994 and was frequently mentioned as a possible White House contender. His son pushed to build the new bridge to replace the current, aging Hudson River crossing, formally named the Gov. Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge.

The legislation signed Thursday was a grab bag of initiatives, programs and policies negotiated by Cuomo and top lawmakers behind closed doors in recent days.

The 15-year-old policy giving New York City's mayor control of city schools was set to expire Friday if lawmakers hadn't voted to renew it. Lawmakers ended their regular session last week without a deal to extend the policy, only to be ordered back into session by the governor.

In exchange for supporting an extension of the educational policy, Republicans in the state Senate demanded help for residents along Lake Ontario hard hit by recent floods. Lawmakers also included the extension of local sales taxes and inserted language to allow Vernon Downs race track and casino to keep more of the money it now sends to the state. The struggling facility had threatened to close if the state didn't help.

With something for just about every lawmaker the measure easily passed and allowed lawmakers to leave Albany.

"It's not perfect, but it's a balance that showed compromise and it shows we're moving forward," Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, said of the final bill that allowed lawmakers to adjourn for the year.

During debate on the Senate floor Thursday, several lawmakers listed items that didn't make the final bill and will go unaddressed for another year. The list includes more money to deal with growing train and subway delays and breakdowns in New York City and ethics reforms to take on Albany's culture of corruption.

"No ethics reform -year after year, scandal after scandal," said Sen. Daniel Squadron, D-Brooklyn.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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