Assembly Democrats to decide upcoming Regents votes

Nov 27, 2013

Most New Yorkers don't realize four of the most powerful people in state government have their terms expiring early next year and only a small group will be allowed to decide what happens next.

The State Board of Regents controls everything from kindergarten to the licenses for medical doctors. Four Regents have terms running out next year and if they want another term, that will be decided by a unique process.

All Senators and Assemblymen are supposed to meet and vote on Regents and majority rules. Because the two houses vote together, the elections are controlled by Assembly Democrats, the largest bloc in the Legislature, and many Senate Republicans don't even show up.

Insiders believe the actual members going for a vote are determined mostly by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. State Senator Patrick Gallivan says he has little voice in what happens.

"The way it's set up right now, the Senate does not have much say at all. It's controlled largely by the Assembly. Half of the members of the Assembly come from that New York City area and Upstate is not well represented. I think our local Regent, Bob Bennett, does a wonderful job and is a very caring individual. He works very hard to make sure we're properly educated about what he's trying to do on the Board of Regents," Gallivan says.

The New York State Allies for Public Education wants a much more open process with candidates explaining how they stand on issues like the Common Core and high-stakes testing.

Instead, applicants go to a small group of committee chairs in the two houses and they decide what names go before the voters.