Cuomo, Legislature Reach Agreement on Rent Laws, 421a But Not MMA

In an email to supporters, Governor Andrew Cuomo described his end-of-session agreement with legislative leaders that addresses many of the important issues facing New York.

Cuomo referred to his bold vision for New York: “one that promised to expand opportunity, make our communities more affordable, transform our state’s education system, and improve social justice across our state.”

The legislation passed by both Houses late on Thursday night did the following:

§ Extends and strengthens rent laws in the New York City area to protect more than two million tenants, while at the same time renewing the property tax cap—which has already saved $800 for the typical property owner—and providing more than $1.3 billion in new property tax cuts for working and middle class families.

§ Extends the 421-a program to keep this important incentive in place to continue creating affordable housing while representatives of the labor and real estate community work toward a long-term agreement.

§ Includes $250 million in new support for nonpublic schools to cover mandated costs, building on our historic investment in public school aid in this year’s state budget.

§ Extends mayoral control of schools in New York City for one year, maintaining an idea that has worked well since 2002.

§ Restructures the cap on charter schools to enable new charter schools to open and offer parents additional choice in education.

Finally, the legislation amends current law to allow the sitting governor, or former governors, to officiate marriages in the State of New York. Previously, Governors could only solemnize marriages ceremonially, unless they were also ordained ministers.

Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan (R-East Northport) took credit for taking action on long-held Republican priorities that reduce the property tax burden in New York in order to create jobs, grow businesses, and help taxpayers keep more of their hard-earned money. “When this new tax relief is combined with statewide affordable housing measures and the increased funding and education reforms that will strengthen all of our schools, the Senate is providing real results that make a positive difference in the lives of real people throughout New York,” said Flanagan.

E.J. McMahon, an economist at the Empire Center, a conservative fiscal watchdog, cynically opined that [homeowners’] property taxes will not actually drop at all as a result of this gambit. However, [they] are expected to feel better because you will be getting a check in [their] mailbox.” McMahon conceded that while property taxes won’t actually decrease, “they will continue to grow much more slowly than they did before 2011, when [Governor] Cuomo kept his biggest 2010 campaign promise by pushing through a statewide (except New York City) cap on annual tax levy increases.”

Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R-Canandaigua) criticized Cuomo and the other legislative leaders for dropping the ball on legalizing mixed martial arts (MMA) and pension forfeiture. “Because of their inaction, New York remains the only state in the country not to legalize this revenue-generating sport [of mixed martial arts].” Kolb accused the Assembly Democrats of walking away from an agreed-upon pension forfeiture bill only to pass a weakened version that had no chance of becoming law. “The lack of stronger ethics reforms after an unprecedented year for corruption shows that Albany still isn’t capable of cleaning up its own house,” fumed Kolb.