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Cuomo, legislative leaders in accord on rent control for 2M tenants, property tax breaks

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ALBANY, New York — Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislative leaders reached broad agreement Tuesday on extending New York City rent controls for more than 2 million tenants and providing $1.3 billion for property tax rebates targeting upstate and Long Island homeowners.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan joined Cuomo to announce their proposals. The legislative leaders planned to present details later to their respective party conferences in seeking approval.

Cuomo said the agreement would continue the statewide property tax cap for four years and also touches on the mayor's authority over New York City schools. They failed to arrive at legislative measures on certain criminal justice issues, however.

For the city, they agreed to a proposal to extend the tax breaks for residential developers that include some affordable housing in their projects, but for only six months. They are asking real estate and labor interests to come up with an agreement on prevailing wages.

"If they don't come up with an agreement in six months the program will expire," Cuomo said.

For tenant protections, Cuomo said the package will contain increases in the rent-decontrol threshold "and what's called indexing to the rent guidelines board to increase the threshold over years."

"I've said right along rent is very important to our conference," Heastie said, adding that he expects the Assembly's majority Democrats to agree to the package once they get to the details.

PHOTO: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, participates in a news conference along with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, left, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Smithtown, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y. Cuomo and legislative leaders have reached agreements on extending rent controls for more than two million tenants and for property tax rebates for homeowners upstate and on Long Island. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, center, participates in a news conference along with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, left, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, R-Smithtown, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y. Cuomo and legislative leaders have reached agreements on extending rent controls for more than two million tenants and for property tax rebates for homeowners upstate and on Long Island. (AP Photo/Tim Roske)

The tax rebate will mean "real money to real people," said Flanagan, adding that he hopes legislators will be in a position in the future to talk about tax cuts.

"We want people to be able to afford to live the way they want and stay in New York and survive and thrive and prosper," Flanagan said.

Senate Republicans later met in conference then presided at a short session in the chamber before adjourning until Wednesday. Sen. John Bonacic, a Middletown Republican, said their staff will now work all night to bring back specific language they can consider. The tax cap was a given and the tax rebates are positive, but there are still details to work out, he said.

The Assembly's majority Democrats, whose staff also planned to work through the night, met behind closed doors for a few hours and adjourned the chamber's formal session until Wednesday.

"Overall I think it was favorable," Assemblyman William Magee, an Oneida Democrat, said afterward.

In education, the agreement would extend Mayor Bill de Blasio's control of city schools for one year and provide $250 million in state reimbursements to private schools that educate about 400,000 students statewide, Cuomo said. It doesn't, however, include a proposed tax credit for families who send their children to those schools.

On criminal justice issues, Cuomo said he will appoint the attorney general for one year as a special prosecutor on any police killings, as he previously promised, because they failed to reach an agreement on legislation. They will try again next year, he said.

They also reached no agreement on the governor's proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18, so administratively Cuomo will move young inmates from state prison to other facilities, he said. Corrections officials say the state has fewer than 100 young inmates in prisons.

Other teenagers are in county jails awaiting trial or serving shorter sentences.

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