2015 STATE OF THE STATE AND BUDGET PRESENTATION - ADVOCACY ALERT
Today's presentation represented a few firsts. This was the first time a governor has presented the State of the State in combination with the release of the Executive Budget. It is also the first time, at least in our memory, that there is no anticipated release of the school aid runs in advance of the April 1 start to the state fiscal year. That means that there is no information about aid for individual districts to be used in the preparation of local budgets; or, when submitting information to the State Comptroller for the calculation of tax levy limits.
According to press reports, the runs will not be released until the legislature agrees to a series of policy reforms. In an additional first, many of these reforms are detailed in a standalone reform budget bill, separate from the traditional Education, Labor and Family Assistance (ELFA) bill.
The Governor proposed a school aid increase of $1.06 billion, or 4.8%, over 2014-15 levels. However, that increase is contingent upon the legislature adopting all his various education reform proposals. Should those proposals not be approved, the Governor indicated just $377 million in additional state aid would be provided in 2015-16.
Further complicating this package is that no details have been provided regarding funding formulas to be used and how they might impact specific aid categories, including Foundation Aid and restoration of the Gap Elimination Adjustment.
Policy and Policy Reform Proposals
The governor referenced a number of policy changes and reform proposals in his presentation. These proposals, as well as the financial information referenced above, were discussed today and are explained in briefing documents. The governor’s overview is here:
The details of these proposals are in the budget bills. NYSSBA staff is analyzing those bills at this time, and will provide a more detailed analysis in the coming days, however, some of the proposals referenced included:
- Teacher Preparation
- Provide free SUNY and CUNY tuition to top grads who commit to teach for 5 years in NY.
- Establish a teacher residency program.
- Teacher Evaluation
- Elimination of locally developed student performance measures; use state tests for 50% of the evaluation and observations for the rest.
- Create statewide, statutory scoring bands.
- Require effective ratings in each half to earn an effective rating overall.
- 3020-a Reform
- Clarify that non-tenured teachers may be dismissed for any reason at any time.
- Amend the 3020-a law to allow for streamlined removal of teachers who, despite remediation, cannot be improved as well as those teachers who committed the most egregious forms of misconduct.
- State Intervention
- Create a state receivership for schools and districts that are determined to be chronically failing.
- Charge the receiver with overhauling staffing, programs and curriculum.
- Charter Schools
- Increase the charter cap by 100 schools and eliminate regional limits.
- Ensure charter schools serve high needs students.
- Mayoral Control
- Extend NYC Mayoral Control.
- Consider Mayoral Control in chronically failing city districts.
- Expand 4 year old pre-K.
- Pilot 3 year old pre-K.
In addition to the reform proposals the governor proposes the following:
Circuit Breaker Rebates
The Governor also formally proposed a property tax rebate plan would connect property tax relief to household income. For homeowners with a household income below $250,000 and property taxes that exceed 6% of their income, the state would provide a credit in the form of a rebate for a percentage of property taxes over the 6% threshold, provided the school district remains at or below the tax cap.
The income progressive plan is slated to be phased-in over four years and would cost $350 million in 2015-16. When fully implemented by 2018, it is expected to cost the state nearly $1.7 billion per year.
Education Investment Tax Credit - Budget and Senate Action
The Governor also included the Education Investment Tax Credit in his proposal, providing up to $100 million in tax credits for donations to certain educational organization.
Immediately preceding the Governor’s speech, the State Senate today passed Senate Bill 1976 (Golden) in a 44-16 vote. The bill would provide an education investment tax credit to individuals, corporations and partnerships that donate money to public schools, private schools and charter schools.
During debate, Senator Gustavo Rivera argued that the state must first fulfill its obligation to public schools. He quoted directly from NYSSBA’s memo in opposition indicating that the state was nearly $5 billion behind full funding of the Foundation Aid formula and that more than $1 billion in state aid reductions still exist through the Gap Elimination Adjustment.
In the coming days, be on the lookout for our more detailed analysis, and tune in to our budget webinar next Tuesday to have questions answered and discuss next steps in the budget process.
In addition, please let your legislators know why it is important for you to have access to local funding information as soon as possible.
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