Gov. Hochul indicated Thursday she’s eyeing some changes to a bill capping class sizes in the city’s public schools before signing it into law in the coming days.
The governor said she is “inclined to be supportive” of the measure but is still going over details of the bill, which has been panned by Mayor Adams as an unfunded mandate.
“I’m looking closely at it,” Hochul said during an interview with Brian Lehrer on WNYC. “I’m inclined to be supportive, I just have to work out a few more details with the mayor.”
The measure, approved by the Democrat-led Legislature in June, was passed as part of a package of education bills that also included the extension of mayoral control of city schools for only two years after Adams petitioned for at least four.
The bill as written would require the city to lower class sizes, capping the number of students between 20 to 25 depending on the grade, over the next five years.
Pressed for details about the delay, Hochul said there are “some loose ends.”
“Funding sources is one,” she said. “Leave it to us, in the next couple of days this will be resolved.”
Adams has vehemently opposed the labor-backed legislation, arguing that without additional funding the city would be forced to slash education spending elsewhere.
A spokeswoman for the mayor said he will only support the class size cap if a chapter amendment is added to address funding.
“While this administration strongly supports lower class sizes, unless there is guaranteed funding attached to those mandates, we will see cuts elsewhere in the system that would harm our most vulnerable students in our highest need communities,” the spokeswoman, Amaris Cockfield, said. “Mayor Adams is grateful to partner with the governor and the legislators in Albany through this past session, and looks forward to their continued work together.”
His position has prompted criticism from longtime proponents of smaller class sizes and parents already upset over school spending cuts made by the city earlier this year.
Schools Chancellor David Banks has backed Adams’ opposition and the city education department estimated that the class-size reduction could cost $500 million a year for elementary schools alone.
Banks earlier this summer called the legislation a “multibillion-dollar unfunded mandate.”
Hochul was less enthusiastic about a recently passed bill that would temporarily halt new large-scale cryptocurrency mining operations in the Empire State.
“We will get to it,” the governor said. “I have to focus on some other issues at the moment.”
The bill, if signed into law, would place a two-year moratorium on cryptocurrency mining operations at fossil fuel-burning power plants that use so-called proof-of-work authentication methods to validate blockchain transactions.
The method, which requires vast amounts of energy as computers solve highly complex mathematical equations to authenticate a transaction, is used to create cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.
Adams and other crypto fans have called on Hochul to veto the measure.
The governor said she is still weighing her options and shot down the idea that her decision will be influenced by large contributions made to her campaign by crypto companies or lobbyists.
“I’m not on the fence right now, I’m analyzing a thousand bills as we speak and many of them are time sensitive,” Hochul said. “I have priorities I have to address. This moratorium came up at the end of session, we didn’t have a lot of time to work through it with our normal process.”