Matt Ryan/WMHT

One-on-one with Senate Majority Leader Flanagan

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks in the upper chamber. Senator Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was arrested and after an awkward delay, stepped down from his position as majority leader. Then, last Monday his fellow Long Islander John Flanagan succeeded him after a close conference vote. This week the East Northport native sits down with us to discuss his views on the Dream Act, the Safe Act and a host of other end-of-session priorities for Republicans. In the preview clip above he...
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Matt Ryan/WMHT

Budget funds to create logger training program

It seems like a long time now, with the arrest of Dean Skelos and the ascension of new Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, but the state budget passed just seven short weeks ago. We've heard a lot about the new teacher evaluation plan, school aid and ethics reforms but this week on New York NOW we'll take a look at what a small fraction of the $142 billion spending plan is helping create - a logger training program. It's a career field that is getting smaller, while the demand is getting...
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There’s a push by business groups and Republicans in the State Senate, as well as Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, to make the state’s 2% per year property tax cap permanent. Backers have issued a report to bolster their views, and say public opinion is on their side.    

Governor Cuomo has been steering clear of public events at the State Capitol recently, after a second major party legislative leader, the head of the Senate was forced to resign over corruption charges. But the governor is still finding ways to press for his legislative agenda in the last weeks of the session.

A near record number of school budgets were approved around the state in Tuesday’s vote. Many are attributing the relative lack of controversy to the three year old property tax cap that limits tax levy increases, as well as an increase in state aid.

99.7 percent of school budgets that stayed within the state’s property tax cap were approved in this week’s vote, according to the New York State School Board Association. The School Board’s Dave Albert says the tax cap, enacted by the governor and legislature three years ago, has played a role, but is not the only factor.

Assembly Democrats are approving a one house bill to strengthen New York City’s rent regulations in favor of tenants. The rent law renewal and many other issues, including an education tax credit and the Dream Act, are in flux as the final weeks of deal making approaches.  

The legislature will be finishing up its work in the next couple of weeks with two new legislative leaders- one in his third month, the other in just his second week on the job.

Now that the State Senate has stabilized, after weeks of turmoil over corruption charges, legislative leaders and Governor Cuomo are looking at what they can reasonably finish with just five weeks left in the session.

Karen Dewitt

Now that the leadership crisis in the Senate is settled, Governor Cuomo and the legislature are pushing their education priorities.

Cuomo, in the remaining days of the session, is pressing for one of the items in his education initiatives- a tax credit for big money donors to send students to private schools and pay for extra curricular programs for public schools. The governor campaigned on Long Island and in Buffalo with New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan.  The Catholic Church backs to donor credit to help finance students who want to attend Catholic schools.

The new leader of the State Senate, John Flanagan, replaced Dean Skelos, who is facing corruption charges. On Day Two in office, Flanagan says he does not expect any major new reform legislation to happen before the end of the session.

Senate Leader John Flanagan says he does not think that further ethics reform will be enacted in the remaining weeks of the legislative session, despite an ongoing corruption scandal that cost his predecessor his job.

Governor Cuomo is coping with the breast cancer diagnosis and impending double mastectomy surgery of his long time partner, and cooking show celebrity Sandra Lee.

The governor says he was “devastated” by the news.

“One phone call can change your life,” he said. “Sometimes you get caught up in the day to day, and all these little nuances that we think are so important at the time, and then you get a phone call that actually reminds you of what’s really important.”

WMHT

While going through all of our footage from yesterday, I noticed our videographer Brian Flynn caught a lighter moment during yesterday's at-times awkward transition of power in the senate chamber.

Senate Leader Dean Skelos has resigned his post, over a corruption scandal, and Republicans have elected Senator John Flanagan, currently chair of the Education Committee to be his successor.

Flanagan, a Republican from Long Island, a GOP stronghold in the Senate, became the new leader of the Senate with a unanimous floor vote from his Republican conference.

Flanagan emerged from a three hour closed door meeting to announce his victory.

“We come out of this unified,” said Flanagan. “And ready to do the people’s business.”

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