New York State School Boards Association

Cuomo vetoes multiple NYSSBA-supported bills

by Julie Marlette

On Board Online • January 22, 2018

By Julie Marlette
Director of Governmental Relations

NYSSBA's 2017 legislative efforts resulted in passage of a number of bills that addressed issues of importance to school district leaders. But on Dec. 18, 2017, Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed several NYSSBA-supported bills.

"These vetoes are really disappointing, especially considering that many of the bills had wide bipartisan support in the Legislature," said NYSSBA President William Miller.

One bill - S.4283 (Murphy)/A.5965 (Galef) - would have made a technical adjustment to the state property tax cap to remove a disincentive for school districts to invest in updating and expanding BOCES facilities. The bill would have clarified that a school district's costs related to BOCES capital expenditures should be excluded from the tax cap calculation, just like the district's own capital costs.

Currently, a district's share of a capital expenditure for BOCES can be excluded from the tax cap calculation only at the discretion of the state Department of Taxation and Finance. In other words, a BOCES board that wants component districts' approval for a capital project cannot be sure of how the project will affect those districts' tax cap calculations.

"There are a number of capital construction projects in BOCES around the state that are being delayed because districts are worried about their tax caps," Miller said.

The governor also vetoed a similar bill, S.2122-A (O'Mara)/A.1841-A (Morelle), which would have made a clarification regarding how money received under payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) agreements should be treated in tax cap calculations.

In his veto messages, the governor said he viewed the bills as undermining the design of the property tax cap to shield taxpayers from big tax increases.

"We appreciate that so many legislators worked with NYSSBA's Governmental Relations staff to address this problem and resolve other issues of importance to school district leaders," said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. "Moving forward, NYSSBA staff will work to address the concerns raised in all of the governor's veto messages and seek alternative solutions."

Other NYSSBA-supported bills vetoed by the governor would have addressed issues involving:

  • Voting wards. The governor vetoed S.6599 (Larkin)/A.881-A (Gunther), which would have authorized school boards to adopt a resolution that would allow voters within the district to decide if they want to create voting wards for boards of education. The governor said that the bill does not provide adequate protections to guard against disenfranchisement or discrimination against citizens or groups of citizens. However, he indicated that he is working with the Legislature to attempt to address those concerns.
  • School-based health care. The governor vetoed S.6012 (Seward)/A.7866 (Gottfried), which would have permanently made School-Based Health Centers (SBHCs) able to receive reimbursement directly from the state Department of Health on a fee-for-service basis. This has been the case since 1985, but technically SBHCs are still part of the state's Medicaid Managed Care program. While the governor disapproved the bill, he has directed the Department of Health to maintain the status quo on reimbursements until January 2021.
  • Tax collection authority. The governor vetoed S.4723-A (Carlucci)/A.4587-A (Jaffee), which would have authorized school districts to collect their own taxes without consent of their town government. Current law allows towns to collect the taxes on behalf of school districts without school district consent. The governor indicated that he vetoed this bill because he is still not satisfied by the notice provisions. He vetoed a similar bill last year over concerns with the notice provisions. Also he said it runs counter to his efforts to streamline government services and promote efficiencies.
  • Regulatory reform. The governor vetoed S.5719 (Jacobs)/A.7125 (Simotas), which would have required state agencies, including the Board of Regents, to include an assessment of the minimum amount of time necessary for local governments and school districts to be compliant with regulations they are developing. The bill would have also required state agencies to actively solicit input from local governments and school districts during the regulatory and rule-making process. The governor indicated that current administrative requirements already provide for adequate input by stakeholders, but that he will call for a review of current procedures to ensure that stakeholders are given the appropriate consideration.

"These were the last bills from the 2017 session that NYSSBA's Governmental Relations team was monitoring," said Kremer. "Although it is disappointing to have a number of NYSSBA priorities rejected at the end of the year, it is a demonstration of progress to have so many controversial issues addressed by both houses of the Legislature. These executive actions will help set the stage for NYSSBA's legislative work in 2018."

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