- Associated Press - Thursday, June 29, 2017

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The new Tappan Zee Bridge will be known as the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge under legislation approved Thursday by New York state lawmakers and signed by Cuomo’s own son, current Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The measure also includes a two-year extension of the policy giving the mayor of New York City control over his city’s schools, as well as $55 million for upstate communities affected by recent flooding and help for a struggling upstate race track and casino. It passed the Assembly and the Senate on Thursday and was promptly signed into law by the Democratic governor.

The new name for the state’s newest big bridge comes two years after the elder Cuomo died. Cuomo said the tribute would have made his father uncomfortable.

“He would say, ‘I don’t want a bridge named after me,’” Cuomo told reporters, noting that his father’s official state portrait was painted from a photograph after his father refused to pose for it, considering the painting an act of vanity.

The elder Cuomo served as governor from 1983 to 1994 and was frequently mentioned as a possible White House contender. His son pushed to build the new bridge to replace the current, aging Hudson River crossing, formally named the Gov. Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge.

The legislation signed Thursday included a grab bag of initiatives, programs and policies negotiated by Cuomo and top lawmakers behind closed doors in recent days.

The 15-year-old policy giving New York City’s mayor control of city schools was set to expire Friday if lawmakers hadn’t voted to renew it. Lawmakers ended their regular session last week without a deal to extend the policy, only to be ordered back into session by the governor.

If mayoral control had lapsed, oversight of the nation’s largest school system would have reverted to dozens of community school boards. Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, has said centralized control has led to better educational outcomes, greater efficiency and programs like universal pre-kindergarten.

“Providing a two-year extension gives the system an important measure of stability that’s key to initiatives that have produced record achievement,” de Blasio said Thursday.

In exchange for supporting an extension of the policy, Republicans in the state Senate demanded help for residents along Lake Ontario hard hit by recent floods. Lawmakers also included the extension of local sales taxes and inserted language to allow Vernon Downs race track and casino to keep more of the money it now sends to the state. The facility in central New York had threatened to close if the state didn’t help.

With something for just about every lawmaker the measure easily passed and allowed lawmakers to leave Albany.

“It’s not perfect, but it’s a balance that showed compromise,” Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, said of the final bill that allowed lawmakers to adjourn for the year.

During debate on the Senate floor Thursday, several lawmakers listed items that didn’t make the final bill and will go unaddressed for another year. The list includes more money to deal with growing train and subway delays and breakdowns in New York City and ethics reforms to take on Albany’s culture of corruption.

“No ethics reform -year after year, scandal after scandal,” said Sen. Daniel Squadron, D-Brooklyn.


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