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Monday, January 4, 2010

Senator John Sampson Bites The Bloomberg Bullet

Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson backs boosting charters to get federal aid
BY Glenn Blain AND Elizabeth Benjamin
DAILY NEWS ALBANY BUREAU, Tuesday, December 29th 2009, 6:04 AM

ALBANY - Senate Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson (pictured above) voiced support Monday for raising the number of charter schools in the state.

Sampson, a Brooklyn Democrat, said raising the state's cap on charter schools was necessary to qualify for much-needed federal aid.

"My philosophy is you have to be in it to win it," Sampson told reporters yesterday. "So I think we need to put ourselves in a position to take advantage of ... moneys that can come from the federal government."

In order for the state to compete for $700 million in federal funds, the Legislature must pass a law by Jan. 19 that would at least double the number of charters allowed in New York to 400.

Gov. Paterson and the state Board of Regents have called for the Legislature to raise the cap. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, has not indicated whether he'll support the measure, which is opposed by the state's powerful teachers union.

Sampson, in a wide-ranging session with reporters, also said the state Senate needs a "makeover" in the eyes of the public following a tumultuous 2009.

"There's a strong possibility that every one of us could be primary'd," Sampson said.

"That's why it's so important that we come out of the box in January and start really passing some progressive and positive legislation."

Sampson said ethics reform was an issue they hoped to address in January.

Sampson also said it will probably take a "couple of weeks or so" for the committee reviewing Queens Sen. Hiram Monserrate's misdemeanor assault conviction to recommend whether he should be kicked out of the Senate.