Flanagan: Close on raise the age

ALBANY — Emerging from a closed-door meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday evening, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said an agreement to raise the age of criminal responsibility is down to a “couple of words.”

The issue, Flanagan said, “is still being discussed.”

Flanagan’s statement seem to contradict what Sen. John DeFrancisco, Flanagan’s deputy, said a few hours earlier. DeFrancisco predicted that policy issues, like raise the age, would likely drop out of the budget.

Several Republican senators were milling around the Capitol Friday evening, despite being told earlier in the day that the chamber would adjourn.

Members are on alert for a possible 8 p.m. GOP conference to discuss the budget, which is due before midnight.

Sen. Jim Tedisco told POLITICO New York that between six and eight members left the Capitol for the evening. Barring their return, the conference doesn’t have enough votes to pass a budget without the Independent Democratic Conference.

At least one Republican senator, Mike Ranzenhofer, was heading back to his district in Western New York, according to the Buffalo News’ Tom Precious.

Flanagan told reporters that “almost every one” of his members is “here.”

He also quashed the idea of doing an extender.

“We’re still having full-blown discussions to get it all done at once,” Flanagan said of the budget.

Charter schools are still a sticking point in budget discussions, Flanagan said.

“We probably just spent a good 20 or 30 minutes on that subject alone,” he told reporters. “There’s the facilities aid piece, the cap, the potential distribution of the cap and obviously the unfreezing of tuition.”

Cuomo’s executive budget called for lifting the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in New York City, unfreezing the charter school tuition formula, providing more building space in public schools, and additional aid for charter schools moving into private space.

The Republican-led Senate included Cuomo’s plans in its one-house budget, but went further, lifting the statewide charter school cap, providing building aid to charters statewide, and increasing funding.

While Senate Republicans and Cuomo have been pushing for a number of proposals benefiting charters, Assembly Democrats have fervently been pushing against them.

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