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State legislature returns for unfinished business

One week after the New York State Legislature declared the 2017 session over, Gov. Andrew Cuomo commanded lawmakers to return for a special session, beginning at 1 p.m. Wednesday, to deal with some unfinished business.

First on the governor's agenda is the extension of the New York City mayor’s control over the city's school system - the largest in the nation. It expires on June 30 and has wide ramifications for the rest of the state. Lawmakers could not agree on a solution before they adjourned on June 21. 

Republicans in the Senate wanted to tie mayoral control to strengthening charter schools, while the Assembly wanted to link mayoral control to the routine exertions of sales tax authorization for most of New York's counties upstate and on Long Island. 

The straight one-year mayoral control extension does not include charter school provisions and leaves the sales tax re-authorization in limbo. County leaders are complaining and have asked Cuomo to add the sales tax authorization to the special session agenda. 

Also apparently off the table is ethics reform, even though there is an economic development scandal in the Cuomo Administration. A bill to make it easier for victims of child sexual abuse to take legal action has not advanced either.

Under the rules of a special session, Cuomo can propose an agenda, but lawmakers can chose whether to support it or to vote no. A spokesperson for the Assembly Democrats said only that the bill will be reviewed and considered. The State Senate has not yet commented.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.
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