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Albany Round-up

March 21, 2013

Cuomo, Legislature promise tax cuts in NY budget

(Continued)

But New York City schools won't get the $250 million reimbursement it sought. The schools lost that increase from last year because the United Federation of Teachers union and Mayor Michael Bloomberg failed to agree to a teacher evaluation system by a deadline set in state law.

A Bloomberg spokesman had no comment Wednesday night.

Several thorny policy issues that appeared to become stalled during budget talks over the last week will be held for debate until after the budget passes — although a governor loses some leverage on policy disputes after a budget is approved. Politics in Albany involves trading on often unrelated issues.

Awaiting discussion is Cuomo's proposed restrictions to the stop and frisk tactic being used by New York City police and the governor's plan to de-criminalize the small amounts of marijuana often found during the frisks. Cuomo wants public display of small amounts of marijuana to be a violation, not a more serious misdemeanor that Democrats say can ruin young lives.

There also was no agreement on penalties for synthetic marijuana, the dangerous drug known as bath salts or on changes to the gun control law passed in January in response to the Newtown, Conn., school shootings. Those talks continue.

"This is probably the most family friendly budget I've ever seen," said Sen. Jeffrey Klein, leader of the Independent Democratic Conference that for the first time shares Senate majority control with Republicans.

Senate Republican leader Dean Skelos promised it will be a "really early budget" that continues a record of timely budgets and fiscal responsibility. Many of the tax cuts were proposed by the Republicans, who showed continued clout in a state government otherwise dominated by Democrats.

"It honors the moral obligation we have and keeps a safety net," Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said of the tentative budget. Silver, a Democrat who led the effort to raise the minimum wage, said the "conceptual framework" will also help "turn the economy around to create jobs in every region of New York state."

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Albany Round-up