Advocacy Alert: Legislative Session Update
July 24, 2020
Shortly after midnight, the legislature wrapped up their most recent brief return to Albany since the Capitol shut down in March due to COVID-19. Following the adoption of the state budget in early April, the Assembly has held nine total session days and the Senate has held eight. While this week had some similar aspects to a traditional end of session, neither the Senate nor the Assembly made any announcements regarding their plan for the rest of 2020. It is still possible for the legislature to return before the end of the day, particularly if the Governor and state Division of Budget release any state funding reduction plan – of which there has been no recent news or developments.
Legislative Session Update
A limited number of bills dealing with education were acted upon this week, mostly focusing on local aid forgiveness legislation and other mostly minor issues. The legislature has been hesitant to take up significant fiscal relief legislation, hoping to keep up pressure on the federal government to provide additional stimulus dollars for the state.
In case the legislature decides to return to session at some point this year, NYSSBA will continue to advocate for legislation dealing with a number of issues that are important to school districts – particularly as districts face the prospects of a challenging and expensive potential reopening this fall.
News broke earlier this week that the White House and the Senate Republican Majority agreed on some key aspects of a new potential federal relief package. While some notable disagreements remain, Senate Republicans are expected to release a proposal next week that is likely to include more than $100 billion in new funding for education – some of which may be tied to in-person instruction.
In May, the House passed the Democrat-sponsored HEROES Act, which would provide approximately $100 billion for education.
NYSSBA plans to make the passage of a new federal relief package – with significant funding for public education – a central part of our virtual Congressional advocacy meetings over the next 6 weeks.
Interim Commissioner Tahoe Stepping Down
Chancellor Rosa and the Board of Regents announced this morning that Interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe will be stepping down from her position and will leave the State Education Department, effective August 13. The Regents are still in the process of searching for a new permanent Commissioner and are expected to name a new Acting Commissioner prior to Ms. Tahoe’s departure.
CARES Act Funding Application
Earlier this week, the State Education Department released the application for school districts to officially apply for federal CARES Act funding. Each district’s share was incorporated in the state budget adopted in early April. Following much debate, recipient school districts must provide equitable services to students and teachers in non-public schools, as required by the US Department of Education’s Interim Final Rule. NYSSBA, in partnership with the National School Boards Association advocated strongly against the adoption of the US DOE’s rule.
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