- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that federal charges New York Senate Leader Dean Skelos is facing threaten to distract lawmakers from key decisions on rent regulations and mayoral control of schools in New York City.

The disruption caused by Skelos’ arrest and the expiration of the laws governing the rent regulations and mayoral control of schools make it all the more important for lawmakers to buckle down, Cuomo said.

“Six weeks left. There are many distractions,” the Democrat told The Associated Press during a telephone interview. “This is not a session to get fancy. I’m focused on getting the basics done.”

The final six weeks of the legislative session were already shaping up to be challenging before Skelos was arrested this week on corruption charges.

Laws governing the city’s longstanding rent control rules, City Hall’s control of schools and a controversial tax break for real estate developers will expire next month. Lawmakers are expected to renew all three - though they could make big changes first.

Skelos, R-Long Island, is accused of trading his influence for more than $200,000 in payments made to his son from a real estate firm and an environmental technology business. Skelos and his son Adam, who also is charged in the case, deny the charges.

Skelos is clinging to power amid calls for his resignation as leader. On Thursday, he sought to change the subject with a statement laying out the challenges that remain before lawmakers can adjourn next month. He said he wants to see big changes to the mayoral control of schools in New York City.

“I do not agree with Mayor (Bill) de Blasio that this program should simply be renewed as is,” Skelos said. “Significant reforms need to be made to ensure that New York City is providing enough local funding for underperforming schools.”

Cuomo called on Skelos to offer specifics, noting that “the clock is ticking.”

“We need to know what his concerns are,” he said. “What is your idea for improvement? When are you going to tell us?”

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