PURCHASING BILL SIGNED INTO LAW
November 15, 2013
GOVERNOR TAKES ACTION ON NYSSBA BILLS
This week Governor Cuomo signed 51 bills and vetoed another 10. The actions taken by the Governor signal an end to the months’ long hiatus of considering bills that where passed by the legislature before its recess in late June. Here are the bills of interest to school board members and the action taken by the governor.
NEW LAWS of 2013
CHAPTER 497 - COOPERATIVE PURCHASING – This new law authorizes school districts and political subdivisions in the state to purchase apparatus, materials, equipment and their related maintence services through contracts let by other government entities. The long awaited law implements a NYSSBA priority contained in the Fiscal Reform Playbook and will provide substantial cost savings to school districts on necessary supplies and equipment. It has been estimated that this ability to “piggyback” on other municipal contracts and the use of internet purchasing will save our schools $200 million per year. The law is effective immediately.
CHAPTER 476 - FINANCING STORM RELIEF – This new law provides municipalities, school districts and fire districts the additional flexibility to borrow for extraordinary expenses incurred as a result of Superstorm Sandy. School districts may authorize the issuance of serial bonds ON OR BEFORE DECEMBER 31, 2013 to provide payment of all or part of the extraordinary expenses of storm relief that have been incurred before the first day of January, 2014. Such extraordinary expenses may include any interest payments on revenue anticipation notes issued while awaiting receipt of moneys from any state or federal government disaster relief act. This law obviously takes effect immediately.
CHAPTER 515 – EAST RAMAPO CENTRAL SCHOOL DISTRICT, ACCELERATED APPORTIONMENTS – This new law provides $3.5 million in advance aid to the East Ramapo Central School District from New York State Lottery revenues. This assistance would be in the form of an accelerated payment (or “spin-up”) of funds that would ordinarily have been disbursed in later years. The money comes with significant state fiscal oversight.
VETO 246: BOCES REAL PROPERTY LEASES – This bill would have authorized BOCES to enter into leases for real property for up to twenty years. Under existing law, BOCES are authorized to enter into ten year leases, with an option to renew a lease for an additional ten years (with SED Commissioner approval.) NYSSBA advocated for this bill, in order to provide stability and the potential cost savings that a longer lease term may provide. The Governor’s veto message indicated that allowing long-term leases would reduce accountability and oversight, limiting important safeguards intended to ensure that taxpayer funds are used effectively. They could bind BOCES to paying rents higher than fair market value or to leases that do not serve the public interest. NYSSBA will pursue this legislation moving forward, as none of these concerns were ever raised in the legislature, where there were no negative votes in either house.
VETO 240 – REGULATORY IMPACT STATEMENTS - This bill would have expanded the state rule-making process by requiring additional information on the costs and benefits associated with any new or amended state agency regulation. NYSSBA supported this bill because the costs of state regulatory mandates have at times been severe and should be carefully examined. The Governor’s veto message indicated that state agencies would be required to speculate and guess about the effects of the proposed regulations rather than engage in any further analysis and this would result in delaying the promulgation of regulations with no meaningful benefit to the public. Assuming that it is possible to calculate the cost of regulations (just as is currently done for legislation) NYSSBA strongly disagrees with the governor. If state agencies are forced to examine the actual cost of new mandates, our schools can only benefit.
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