On Board Online • November 29, 2021
By John Daley
Governmental Relations Representative
and Danielle Grasso
Grassroots Advocacy Manager and Governmental Relations Coordinator
The legislative session opening in January will reflect major changes in the state's political scene.
It will be Gov. Kathy Hochul's first legislative session as head of the executive branch. While she served as president of the state Senate when she was lieutenant governor, she now assumes a preeminent role in state budget negotiations and the legislative process as a whole.
Hochul will lay out her priorities for the legislative session during the State of the State address. She will also present her executive budget, a proposal which typically contains many policy initiatives.
What to expect for fiscal 2022-23
The Office of the State Comptroller has projected that the state may enter budget negotiations with significant surplus revenue for the first time in several years.
New York State's 2021-22 enacted budget was $212 billion (representing growth of 10% from the prior year). More than $12 billion was generated by federal stimulus funding.
At the time, it was expected that the state would face a tight fiscal situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the state's better-than-expected recovery combined with revenue enhancements in the enacted budget have resulted in revenue that, as of October 2021, already exceeded projections by $7.2 billion. This number is expected to climb even further by the time the 2022-23 budget process begins. This will likely set the state on a course to enter budget negotiations with a surplus.
How the state spends the expected surplus will be of paramount importance in the budget process. NYSSBA's top budget priority will be for the state to maintain its commitment to fully fund Foundation Aid over a three-year period, as enacted in the past year's state budget. The 2022-23 state budget represents year two of that plan.
A significant year for state elections
The 2022 legislative session will unfold during a gubernatorial election year, with voting on Nov. 8, 2022. Hochul has announced she will seek another term. As of this writing, other announced candidates for the Democratic nomination include Attorney General Letitia James and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Several candidates have declared their intention to seek the Republican nomination for governor. These include Congressman Lee Zeldin, the presumed party front-runner; Rob Astorino, a former Westchester County executive and the 2014 Republican gubernatorial nominee; and Andrew Giuliani, son of the former New York City mayor.
Also on November 2022 ballots will be all 63 seats in the state Senate and all 150 seats in the state Assembly. Currently, Democrats hold veto-proof supermajorities in both houses. In the Assembly, Democrats hold 105 seats plus one independent member who conferences with them. In the Senate, Democrats currently hold 42 seats, and that number will rise to 43 upon the swearing-in of Senator-elect Cordell Cleare (who will fill the vacancy created by the appointment of Brian Benjamin as lieutenant governor). This will be the makeup of the legislature during the upcoming legislative session, with the election to follow.
NYSSBA advocacy events planned
During the COVID-19 pandemic, NYSSBA has used new ways to help school board members engage with elected officials and advocate for NYSSBA's positions. Our Take Action letter writing campaigns have resulted in elected officials receiving thousands of letters. In addition, hundreds of members have participated in virtual Congressional meetings and virtual versions of the Capital Conference and the Annual Business Meeting, which had the highest attendance figures in at least the past half decade.
Here is what you can expect over the next few months:
- 2022 Legislative Preview Webinar (virtual) on Dec. 9, 2021. Join NYSSBA staff as we preview the upcoming legislative session.
- NSBA National Advocacy Institute (in person) on Jan. 23-25, 2022. Travel to the nation's capitol to participate in our first in-person federal meetings since January 2020.
- Capital Conference 2022 (virtual) on Feb. 2, 2022. Expect an analysis of the executive budget, conversations with state officials and advocacy tips.
- NYSSBA Lobby Day (in person) on Feb. 9, 2022. After a breakfast meeting with a speaker in the well of the Legislative Office Building, members will be provided with talking points and memos to share in meeting with their local legislators. Note: All appointments should be scheduled by your own district. However, NYSSBA staff will be available to answer questions.