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State lawmakers tackle unfinished business

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Karen DeWitt
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The State Assembly voted in the early hours of Thursday morning on a bill that takes care of some unfinished business in the 2017 legislative session.

After Governor Cuomo called a special session Wednesday, lawmakers agreed to extend the New York City Mayor's control of the schools for two more years, and gave counties permission to charge sales tax for three more years.

The Senate and Assembly had left those items unfinished when they ended the session June 21st.

Mayoral control was to expire Friday, and the major credit rating agencies were threatening to downgrade counties credit ratings over the uncertainty of the future of the sales tax.  They also agreed to provide $55 million dollars in flood relief to areas damaged by high waters on Lake Ontario, and bail out the financially ailing Vernon Downs raceway in the Mohawk Valley.

The bill, dubbed the "mini ugly," also renames the Thruway's Tappan Zee Bridge after the current governor's father, former Governor Mario Cuomo. 

Lawmakers did not address any plans to help the troubled MTA and New York City transit systems, strengthening of the state's charter schools, or ethics reform, after an economic development  scandal in the governor's office.

The measure was negotiated behind closed doors between Governor Cuomo and majority party legislative leaders, and the bills were not in print until nearly midnight Wednesday. Minority's party leaders condemned the process. Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins called it "dysfunctional," and a "disservice" to the people of the state.

The Senate plans to vote on the package during daylight hours on Thursday.

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.