January 4, 2018
Yesterday, Governor Cuomo delivered the 2018 State of the State address. Returning to a more traditional schedule, which he had abandoned in recent years, the Governor delivered the address on the opening day of session separate from the release of the 2018 Executive Budget.
Education issues were given very little time during the speech itself. The actual comments on education policy included:
- A commitment to continued investment in education, with a distribution that focuses on students with the greatest need.
- A requirement that districts receiving grants from the state direct the funds to the neediest students in their districts.
- A commitment to expand pre-kindergarten investments and STEM programs.
- A commitment to a continuing investment in the Master Teacher Program.
The Governor mentioned a number of other items that could ultimately impact school districts during his speech, including:
- Proposing that all state agencies and local governments adopt a uniform set of sexual harassment policies. It was not specified whether or not school districts would be included.
- Committing to supporting and protecting public sector unions in the event that the Supreme Court overturns agency shop fees.
However, the Governor's speech was accompanied by a lengthy written agenda that encompassed a number of additional items. Some of those included:
- Providing an additional $15 million to continue to expand pre-kindergarten for 3 and 4-year olds in high need schools around the state. The new expansion will focus on including students in integrated or community-based settings.
- Adopting a 5-Point Plan to Ensure No Student Goes Hungry. The provisions include:
- A ban on school lunch shaming for any student who cannot afford lunch including a ban on the provision of alternative lunches for students who cannot pay.
- Require school districts with 70% or more FRPL students to provide school breakfast after the school day has begun.
- Double the Farm-to-School program funding from $750,000 to $1.5 million.
- Increase state lunch reimbursements from 5.9 cents to 25 cents per lunch served for any district that purchases at least 30% of its ingredients from New York farms.
- Require food pantries on all SUNY and CUNY campuses.
- Providing $250,000 to create enhanced mental health support grants for school districts.
- Providing an additional $1 million to create a new cohort of Master Teachers serving high-need school districts.
- Funding a new round of Empire State Excellence in Teaching Awards.
- Providing $10 million in funding for another round of Empire State After-School Grants with a focus on high-need areas.
- Providing $9 million to expand Early College High Schools.
- Providing $6 million for Smart Start Computer Science Grants that will support teacher development in computer science and engineering, while also creating model computer science standards to be made available to all schools.
- Providing $2 million to expand AP and IB test fee funds to cover these fees for low income students; and $500,000 for grants for technical assistance for schools wishing to start or expand AP course offerings.
- Increasing fines for passing a stopped school bus.
- Providing $1.5 million over 3 years to support locally run early intervention and violence protection programs targeting middle and high school students.
- Exploring new technology options for school safety response systems that will allow first responders to enter with greater certainty about where they are going, where threats may exist, and where victims may be hiding.
- Enacting the Child Victims Act, which would:
- Eliminate the statute of limitations for all criminal cases in which the alleged victim is less than 18 years old.
- Expand the statute of limitations for civil cases to 50 years after the offense was alleged to have been committed.
- Allow a one year look back for anyone who is still unable to bring suit with the changes to the statute of limitations.
- Eliminate the notice of claim requirement when bringing suit against a public entity.
Finally, in both his written materials and the speech itself, the Governor spoke extensively about his commitment to fight back against what he called threats to New York from Washington, including but not limited to the recently enacted tax bill. He committed to seeking legal action and challenging the tax bill in the courts, while also exploring all options to changes in state tax code to provide relief for New York's tax payers. One option he indicated he will explore is shifting from our traditional income tax system to a payroll tax system.
We anticipate that the majority of these proposals will be included in the Executive budget. The constitutional deadline for the release of the budget is January 16th.
NYSSBA's Governmental Relations team will keep you up to date on these and other issues.
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