New York State School Boards Association

Advocacy Update: State of the State 2021

January 15, 2021

Governor Cuomo has wrapped up an almost week-long State of the State presentation focused on defeating COVID-19, affordable broadband for low-income New Yorkers, revival of the arts, investment in the Green economy and a public sector redevelopment plan. Education was not at the forefront of the Governor's announcements, but some notable mentions include an ask for the new federal Administration to restore the SALT deduction; a proposal for low-cost or free high speed Internet for low-income households; and a finding new opportunities to embrace the Arts.

Executive Budget Timeline

The deadline for the release of the 2021 Executive Budget is Tuesday, January 19, 2021. NYSSBA's Governmental Relations team will provide a detailed analysis of all proposals relevant to school boards and public education.  We encourage you to join us for a full presentation and Q&A regarding the Executive Budget during the Capital Conference Event on February 3rd.  Registration details are below.

President-Elect Biden's Stimulus Plan

President-elect Joe Biden is calling on Congress to pass a new stimulus package that would include $350 billion in state and local aid to help governments bridge budget shortfalls. Of this $350 billion, $130 billion would be dedicated to helping K-12 schools safely reopen. These funds could be used to reduce class sizes and modify spaces so students and teachers could socially distance; improve ventilation; hire more janitors and implement mitigation measures; provide personal protective equipment; ensure every school has access to a nurse; increase transportation capacity to facilitate social distancing on the bus; hire counselors to support students as they transition back to the classroom; close the digital divide that is exacerbating inequities during the pandemic; provide summer school or other support for students that will help make up lost learning time this year; create and expand community schools; and cover other costs needed to support safely reopening and support students. Funding could also be used to prevent cuts to state pre-k programs.

A portion of the funding would be reserved for a COVID-19 Educational Equity Challenge Grant, which would support state, local and tribal governments in partnering with teachers, parents, and other stakeholders to advance equity- and evidence-based policies to respond to COVID-related educational challenges and give all students the support they need to succeed. In addition to this funding, schools would be able to access FEMA Disaster Relief Fund resources to get reimbursed for certain COVID-19 related expenses and would receive support to implement regular testing protocols.

2021-22 Tax Levy Growth Factor

The allowable tax levy growth factor - a key component of each school district's property tax cap - will be 1.23% for 2021-22 school budgets. This is the lowest percentage since the 2016-17 school year.

The figure, based on the Consumer Price Index, represents the degree to which school districts' property tax levies may increase from one year to the next, not including district-specific adjustments for capital expenses, adjustments for payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) and other factors in the tax cap formula.

Last year, the allowable tax levy growth factor was 1.81%. By law, it is limited to the lesser of 2% or the rate of inflation.

The 2021 Capital Conference

Despite the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought, NYSSBA continues to provide high quality programming that has traditionally been delivered in-person. On Wednesday, February 3rd we will be hosting our annual members only Capital Conference virtually.  Join us to learn how to influence legislators before key budget decisions are made and how to stand united and effectively advocate on behalf of your students in this virtual world.  Attendees will receive a breakdown of the Executive Budget proposal, learn strategies about how to advocate in a virtual world and hear from elected officials and other education leaders in the state.  The 2021 Capital Conference is sponsored by Forecast5 Analytics. 

Date: Wednesday, February 3, 2021
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. (tentative)
Register here

NYSSBA's Governmental Relations team will continue to report on these and other issues.  For more information, visit our Key Issues Page.

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