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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Sunday, August 20, 2017

Late on Wednesday night, June 21, the New York state Legislature concluded its annual session without renewing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s authority over the city’s schools. 

Legislative leaders, city officials and Governor Andrew Cuomo talked throughout the day, while just before the stroke of midnight, the Senate and Assembly ended their session without taking any action on the issue. With the conclusion of this school year, the law will expire at the end of June that permits the mayor to control the city schools.

Dozens of local taxes involving mayoral control, like the personal income tax for the city, that the Legislature would need to renew were also left with no resolutions.

Democrat Bronx Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said that the GOP-controlled Senate is to blame for insisting that bills extending mayoral control would also permit more charters.

He said, “That couldn’t be resolved. We are not going to pass a bill that requires us to do anything on charters.” 

In a statement, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said he supported mayoral control but added that “50,000 boys and girls in Harlem, Brooklyn and the Bronx” are on waiting lists for charter schools.

Flanagan said, “I will never stop fighting for those kids, and will not leave them without a voice.” He added that if they could compromise on the issue, then he would be willing to reconvene with the Senate. 

The Daily News reports, “The Assembly last month passed a bill that included a straight two-year extension of the mayoral control law as well as renewals for dozens of local taxes that the Senate GOP wants to deal with separately. The Senate this month passed three separate mayoral control bills that would extend the law by up to five years, but with various strings attached, including charter school provisions.”

Late Wednesday, Heastie said, “We leave here feeling that we covered every single county and that's it so we are going home.”

According to the Daily News, “De Blasio urged lawmakers to remain in Albany until they reached an agreement and warned that not renewing mayoral control would open a Pandora’s box for city schools. If the law expires, the former Board of Education would convene July 1. The Legislature was also faltered on another de Blasio priority — a bill that would authorize additional speed enforcement cameras for city school zones. Lawmakers did give final approval to dozens of other bills, including a measure requiring passengers who ride in the front seat of taxis to wear seat belts, one renaming a portion of the Southern State Parkway in honor of fallen NYPD Detective Steven McDonald, and one that would give the families of emergency medical technicians killed in the line of duty the same death benefits as cops and firefighters.”

By Rebecca Gold