NEW YORK CITY — State lawmakers reached a tentative agreement Tuesday on a range of issues that affect millions of New Yorkers including an extension of rent regulations and mayoral control of the schools.
Rent regulations, which control how much landlords can charge for more than 1 million rent stabilized city apartments, will be extended for four years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.
Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio had called not only for a renewal of the laws but to strengthen them as well. De Blasio wanted to eliminate vacancy decontrol where an apartment can be removed from regulation once it reaches $2,500 per month.
Instead, the cap on vacancy decontrol will be raised and future increases will be indexed to decisions by the Rent Guidelines Board. Rent regulations expired last week and the Legislature passed a five-day extension through Tuesday.
De Blasio also had called for mayoral control of schools to be made permanent. Cuomo's deal calls for mayoral control to be extended for just one year, meaning de Blasio will have to mount a campaign again next year.
Still, Cuomo called the deal framework a "robust" and "comprehensive" agreement given the craziness of a legislative session where the leaders of both houses were indicted and stepped down.
"It was almost unimaginable to have this kind of change in this period of time," Cuomo said. "You wound up with two new leaders, both brought in at the seventh inning, if you will, who were handed the ball and were told to pitch."
Other issues addressed in the overtime session include a six month extension of the controversial 421-a tax break for developers.
De Blasio called for a complete overhaul or elimination of the program because some developers were able to get tax breaks for luxury housing without having to build affordable housing.
Instead, the tax break will be extended for six months while an agreement on whether to pay workers on 421-a projects a prevailing wage is resolved.
Other changes include an increase on the cap of the number of charter schools. Cuomo will also use his executive power to appoint Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as a prosecutor to investigate police killings of civilians for one year.
Cuomo had proposed allowing district attorneys to release grand jury information or a report in the case of civilian deaths at the hands of the police.
Schneiderman had lobbied for Cuomo to use his authority to appoint him as a special prosecutor. Cuomo promised to appoint a special prosecutor if the legislature failed to act on his proposals.
"I don’t believe this is the perfect alternative, but I believe it is the best alternative at this time," said Cuomo.
The governor will also use his executive power to raise to 18 the age at which individuals can be sent to state prison.
"I have spent time in prisons and that is not an environment that is suitable for 16- and 17-year olds and let me leave it at that," said Cuomo.
The proposed framework's details have yet to be fully worked out. Both Heastie and Flanagan still have to present the proposal to their respective conferences.