New York Lawmakers Face Major Issues In 2015
As Gov. Andrew Cuomo mourns the loss of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, lawmakers are getting to work in Albany for the start of the 2015 legislative session. The Legislature convened last week for its six-month session and already there’s been tragedy and scandal on top of the usual load of hard work.
Dave Lucas, capital region bureau chief for Northeast Public Radio, joined Alex Keefe to talk about the major issues in Albany this season.
Education: Charter school proponents want to lift a cap on the number of charter schools within New York City.
“The charter school advocates, they’re just in high gear. They’ve got New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio in their corner, they believe that the Senate and Governor Cuomo will be there for them as they lobby for lifting that 1998 cap which originally was imposed as a concession to the unions. 2015 could be sink or swim for charter schools.”
Minimum Wage: Advocates and the national press will have an eye on New York as some lawmakers work on raising the minimum wage this year.
“It doesn’t seem likely that lawmakers will be able to sidestep this one. Lots of national press, lots of groups advocating for raising the minimum wage, supporting Speaker Silver’s push to amend the minimum wage statute and fast-track that increase to $9 an hour. So expect a lot of passion and position, and also pressure on both houses to get this done or risk losing election, maybe, in the next cycle.”
Criminal Justice Reform: In the Wake of the Eric Garner verdict and the murder of on-duty NYPD officers, New Yorkers are watching the capital closely for how elected officials react to tensions in the city.
“The expectations are he’s ready to rumble on this. He’s determined to resolve issues within the criminal justice system, and he recently commented that police officers need more safety and need more protection, while he stressed that law enforcement needs to respect the community as much as the community needs to respect law enforcement. So while he hasn’t really tipped his hand, observers think whatever changes he has in mind will definitely be when he gives his state of the state address he will reveal his position in full, and it could be a doozy.”
“There’s been more interest in what’s happening in New York City upstate than I’ve seen in a long time. People wanna know what the positions are, what’s being done to discipline the police officers, if the police are being militarized. There’s a lot of questions swirling around this whole issue.”