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Legislature gets ‘framework’ for mega deal

ALBANY — The framework of an agreement struck by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders is expected to result in a property tax cap, the extension of New York City rent control, tuition increases at the State university of New York and more by Tuesday night.

The deal struck behind closed doors doesn’t resolve continuing negotiations over legalizing gay marriage, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said. Talks continue over amendments to better protect religious groups that could face discrimination lawsuits if they refuse to participate in same-sex weddings.

If action on the agreement wraps up Tuesday night, that makes Wednesday the likely day the gay marriage measure could get a floor vote in the Republican-controlled Senate. Cuomo’s proposed bill has already been approved by the Assembly, so he would quickly sign it into law if it passes the Senate, allowing same-sex marriages 30 days later.

But on Tuesday, the Senate and Assembly and governor focused on the outstanding issues that had to be resolved before the Senate’s Republican majority addressed gay marriage. That’s at least some solace for advocates on both sides of the issue who were frustrated by Albany’s traditional end-of-session stall as disparate issues are worked out as part of one big deal.

“There is a framework by which we plan to end session that deals with the issues that are before us,” Silver said, as he went to report the details to his Democratic conference. “There are still details that have to be worked out.”

The 2011 legislative session was scheduled to end Monday. The details of the deal were being shared Tuesday behind closed doors with the Senate’s Republican majority and the Assembly’s Democratic majority and had not been made public.

“We have what I believe is the framework for an agreement on most of the outstanding issues: rent, property tax cap, mandate relief. Most of those issues I think we are going to resolve very shortly,” Skelos said.

“We’re working on the details, but I am very confident that between the governor — who is showing tremendous leadership once again — and the speaker — showing flexibility — that we will have a session completion by tomorrow,” Skelos said Tuesday.

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto confirmed the action, calling it a “tentative framework agreement.”

Neither Skelos nor Silver would say whether they won out in the fight over whether the property tax cap would be permanent or temporary, with the possibility of future extensions.

Here are the issues in the deal:

— The SUNY 2020 plan. It would provide tuition increases at the university system’s 64 campuses, which is now just under $5,000 a year. The deal could end up with up to 5 percent annual increases at all campuses for up to the next five years, for about a 28 percent compounded increase. In addition, the university centers at Buffalo, Binghamton, Albany and Stony Brook could get authorization for an additional 3 percent annual increase, for a total of 8 percent.

The goal is to help SUNY reach the highest academic levels in the nation while giving campuses the flexibility to work with private companies and research firms to act as regional economic engines.

— Property tax cap. It would cap the growth in some of the highest property taxes in the country at 2 percent a year or inflation, whichever is less. The cap could be overridden if 60 percent of a school district’s voters approve.

— New York City rent control. Silver said tenants will “be able to sleep well” under the deal he said will include some additional protections. The 1946 law, extended several times, provides more than 2 million residents in and around New York City with rents well below market level to help keep a middle class in the city.

— Mandate relief. This would give school districts flexibility in several mandates from Albany that can increase the cost of construction projects and in labor negotiations, many of which were originally passed at the urging of unions.

Mandate relief has been linked to the property tax cap, to allow a way for schools and local governments to achieve savings and greater efficiencies.