Karen Dewitt

NYS Capitol Correspondent

Ways To Connect

The new leader of the State Senate, John Flanagan, replaced Dean Skelos, who is facing corruption charges. On Day Two in office, Flanagan says he does not expect any major new reform legislation to happen before the end of the session.

Senate Leader John Flanagan says he does not think that further ethics reform will be enacted in the remaining weeks of the legislative session, despite an ongoing corruption scandal that cost his predecessor his job.

Senate Leader Dean Skelos has resigned his post, over a corruption scandal, and Republicans have elected Senator John Flanagan, currently chair of the Education Committee to be his successor.

Flanagan, a Republican from Long Island, a GOP stronghold in the Senate, became the new leader of the Senate with a unanimous floor vote from his Republican conference.

  Disagreements that have roiled the state’s education community in the wake of new teacher evaluation laws approved by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the legislature as part of the budget were highlighted at a day long summit called by education officials.

Principals, teachers and school boards have objected to the tight deadline in the law, as well as the greater reliance on standardized tests, a component that Governor  Cuomo has insisted upon.

Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his first public comments since the leader of the State Senate was charged in an extortion and bribery scheme, says if true, he finds the accusations “disturbing.”

Cuomo, speaking in Syracuse, commented for the first time since Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was charged with six counts of public corruption.

“If the charges are correct, it’s deeply disturbing” Cuomo said. “And the narrative that the papers present is deeply disturbing and troubling.”

Major newspapers have posted editorials calling for the New York Senate Leader, Dean Skelos, to resign after the Senator and his son have been accused of running a corruption scam. But so far, Skelos is hanging on, and Republicans are trying hard to carry on business as usual.

One day after US Attorney Preet Bharara bought a six count complaint against Skelos, accusing him and his son, Adam, of bribery and extortion, the Senate Leader attended the annual police memorial. In brief remarks, he reiterated his belief that the charges against him are false.

It may be three years until the next statewide election, but potential candidates are already staking out their positions. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman both say they are content with their jobs, and would like to keep them longer.

The annual state report on lobbying is out, and it finds that $226 million was spent on influencing government leaders, with the largest amount from education groups.

It’s not a surprise that education entities spent the most money on lobbying than any other group in 2014, just as controversy over the new Common core standards and the related standardized tests reached a peak.

Karen DeWitt

The state legislature’s Black, Hispanic and Asian Caucus is reacting to events in Baltimore and is calling for swift action on a package of criminal justice reforms that have been stalled in the State Senate.

The caucus members say they’ve grown weary of incidents where African Americans die after encounters with police. Assemblyman Michaela Blake represents portions of the Bronx.

“Baltimore is happening in the Bronx, “ Blake said. “It can happen anywhere.”

Blake says the young people involved in the riots are not thugs or criminals.

Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

There’s growing support in the state legislature to address controversial aspects of New York State’s Common Core learning standards and related testing.

 

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says Assemblyman William Scarborough’s expected decision to plead guilty to illegally claiming over $40,000 in travel expenses is “the right thing to do.”

Schneiderman’s office, along with the State Comptroller, originally launched the investigation that led to the charges by the U.S. Attorney for New York’s Northern district.

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