ALBANY – Tuesday at the State Capitol will go down as concession day.
Criminal justice, education, infrastructure, immigration and tax issues all started falling off the budget table as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers erased their previous lines in the sand. It was a sure sign of a desperate push for an on-time state budget by next Wednesday.
For instance, soon after Catholic Church leaders mounted a last-ditch push for a tax-credit plan to help private and religious schools, Cuomo said the idea has been dropped from budget negotiations following stiff opposition by Assembly Democrats.
The education tax credit, Cuomo said, joined the DREAM Act, a proposal to provide college aid to children of undocumented immigrants, as just two of the issues being jettisoned from talks in the budget rush during the final week before the 2015-16 fiscal year begins.
Cuomo wasn’t ready to publicly concede on his insistence on state-imposed stronger job-performance evaluations for public school teachers. But lawmakers in both the Assembly and the Senate said Tuesday that an idea to form a commission – a go-to route in Albany when sides can’t agree – was under discussion to address changing how classroom teachers in the state’s 700 school districts are evaluated. Cuomo administration officials sought to tamp down “rumors,” later saying that nothing has been agreed to.
And yet, this doesn't sound like the work of somebody making concessions:
FUNDING TIED TO JUNE EVAL DEAL—Capital’s Jessica Bakeman: “Members of the State Assembly’s Democratic majority fumed Tuesday night over a plan they said was developed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senate Republicans to hold back a school funding increase until June, when an appointed commission would recommend a new teacher-evaluation system. After meeting privately for several hours, Assembly members accused Senate Republicans of reneging on an apparent understanding between the two chambers that education funding would not be contingent on the enactment of reforms, such as an overhaul of the performance rating system for educators, which Cuomo has pushed.
“According to the plan, Cuomo and lawmakers would establish in the budget a six-member commission with two appointees each for the governor and the legislative houses, members said. The panel would develop a new evaluation system and return it to the Legislature by June 1, at which point, schools would have access to an increase in aid.
“‘There is a great concern that the governor is trying to maneuver to accomplish an agenda that we all reject,’ Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, a Democrat from Westchester, said after the conference’s meeting on Tuesday night. ‘[Setting] up another way to deal with the policy issue of teacher evaluations sounded like an attractive approach, but now all of a sudden, we’re hearing that [Senate Republican leader Dean] Skelos is backing away from what he said would be the pre-condition for that, which would be no linkage [to funding]. So if we can’t trust him on that, how can we trust him on the commission?’” http://bit.ly/1xwIxmY
That sounds like the work of somebody looking to get what he wants on teacher evaluation reforms and still using the stick approach by tying funding to his getting it.
Key word out of the Bakeman piece there is "trust".
Senate GOP and Assembly Dems had made a deal that there be "no linkage to funding."
Cuomo has a meeting with GOP Majority Leader Skelos and suddenly there is linkage to the funding.
That kind of thing is called "betrayal" and perhaps it's just payback for what Heastie and the Assembly Dems did to Skelos and the Senate GOP when they agreed to an ethics reform deal with Cuomo.
In any case, what it means outside Albany is that, contrary to what you may have heard in the news, Governor Cuomo is NOT backing away from his most damaging proposals to "break" public schools and public school teachers.