Archive for September, 2010

Tax cap news

September 20th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Over the weekend, Gannett News Service continued its series on the property tax cap issue.

For this article, picked up by several papers around the state, Gannett asked Assemblymembers to take a position on whether they would vote to pass Governor Paterson’s property tax cap proposal which has already passed the Senate.

The Governor’s proposal is summarized below.

Gannett reports that 61 of the 150 Assemblymembers said they would support the proposal, 20 said they would vote no, 23 said they were undecided, and 41 did not respond.

Here is Gannett’s complete listing of the individual responses.

The article led to reactions from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Governor Paterson.  The Governor predicts that if brought to a vote, his cap proposal would pass the Assembly. Read the rest of this entry »

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BOCES superintendent joining State Education Department leadership

September 17th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Earlier this week, the Board of Regents approved the appointment of James N. Baldwin as Chief of Staff of the State Education Department, effective on October 14, 2010.

For the past eight years, Dr. Baldwin has served as the District Superintendent of Questar III, the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) for Rensselaer, Columbia and parts of Greene Counties.

In announcing the appointment, State Education Commissioner David Steiner said,

During the last ten months, I have had numerous interactions with Jim in his capacity as Chair of the 37 BOCES District Superintendents and have been very impressed with Jim’s deep knowledge of K-12 education at multiple levels, his high-level administrative skills, and his very sophisticated reading of the always complex educational environment. I believe he will be an invaluable member of the SED team as we implement the New York State Board of Regents’ vision for education reform.

Jim has had a uniquely varied career in education and public service, and brings perspectives which should be enormously helpful to the SED leadership team.

In addition to leading Questar BOCES, he has served as a school board member, a counsel for the State Assembly, Corporation Counsel for the city of Troy, and Executive Deputy Secretary of State in the New York State Department of State in the administration of Governor Mario Cuomo.

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School Aid reductions being imposed to cover shortfall in federal Medicaid support

September 16th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

As expected and as explained in earlier posts, current year reductions in School Aid are being implemented to help the state offset a shortfall in federal Medicaid support.

Yesterday, the Governor’s Budget Division issued guidance to state agencies on how to implement the state’s FMAP (Federal Medical Assistance Program) contingency plan.

As a rule, most areas of state spending are being reduced by 1.1 percent from the levels provided in the budget approved by the Legislature and Governor.

General School Aid is being reduced by roughly .67 percent for each district – each scheduled payment for each district will be reduced by that figure.

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Waiting for “Waiting for Superman” UPDATED

September 10th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

A forthcoming movie promises to stir up education politics across the country when it begins appearing in theaters on September 24.

“Waiting for Superman” is the latest effort from Davis Guggenheim, director of “An Inconvenient Truth,” the film about global climate change that helped Al Gore win both an Oscar and a Nobel Peace Prize.

New York Magazine has a preview that is worth reading for its insights into national education politics.

I’ll probably write more on this some day soon.

UPDATE:  Here is a comment on the movie from New York State United Teachers.

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Pensions, property taxes, and tax caps

September 9th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Last week, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced changes in employer contribution rates for the public retirement systems he oversees.  The average contribution rate for the largest, the Employees Retirement System (ERS), will rise from 11.9 percent to 16.3 percent.

The Comptroller ascribed the surge to the 2008-09 stock market meltdown — losses in investment earnings which now need to be offset by higher contributions in order to fund legally promised benefits.

The announcement spurred a front page article in the Albany Times Union titled, “Pension Drop = Tax Rise.”

In fact, the drop in retirement system investment value drove up pension costs for this current year as well.  But school district leaders worked hard to avoid having those costs – which they cannot cut – translate into big property tax increases.

Here is what happened in the budgets that school districts adopted for their fiscal year that began back on July 1…

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Back to school column by State Education Commissioner David Steiner UPDATED

September 8th, 2010 by Robert Lowry

Today’s New York Daily News carries a column by State Education Commissioner David Steiner titled, “Back to school, back to reform: N.Y. education commissioner charts a course to higher standards.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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How New York Made it to the Top

September 1st, 2010 by Robert Lowry

A few last words on the Race to the Top competition, before turning more to the substance of what New York’s $696.6 million grant will mean for schools and students…

Here is a chart comparing how scores changed between the first and second rounds of the Race to the Top competition on each of the criteria used to evaluate applications for New York and the averages for all the other finalists in each round.

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance, National Policy | 2 Comments »