Archive for January, 2011

Cuomo proposal would set zero percent tax cap for schools

January 31st, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Late on Friday, the Senate Republicans introduced a bill submitted by Governor Cuomo to impose a property tax cap on schools and local governments.

The Senate plans to pass the bill today.  The action surprised Assembly Democrats as reported by the New York Times and others.

UPDATE:  Late this afternoon the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 45-17.

Ostensibly, the bill would limit school tax levy increases to the lesser of 2 percent or the change in national Consumer Price Index over the calendar year preceding the start of the school year, unless 60 percent of voters support over-riding the cap to approve a greater increase.

The bottom-line, however, is that if voters do not approve their district’s proposal, its tax levy would be capped at the prior year amount — a cap of zero, not 2 percent.

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Mixed messages from voters on budget choices

January 26th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

A new poll by the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute reveals voters’ conflicting sentiments on school funding and state budgeting choices in general.

By an 82-13 percent margin, voters favor a cap on local property taxes.

By a 79-18 percent margin they oppose cutting aid to schools to balance the state budget.

The expectation is that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget and legislative proposals would impose both on schools.

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Regents seeking reactions on possible changes to graduation requirements

January 23rd, 2011 by Robert Lowry

The Board of Regents is seeking input on possible changes to the state’s requirements for high school graduation.

Changes could take two forms:

  1. creating additional requirements with the goal of ensuring that all graduates are ready for college, a career or both; and
  2. providing more flexibility in how students may satisfy graduation requirements.

The Regents are conducting a series of regional forums to gather opinions.  They are also conducting an online survey.

The Department leadership has asked that we encourage participation by superintendents  —  and we do.

The outcome of this effort could be enormously consequential for schools and students.

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Long Island’s John Flanagan to lead Senate Education Committee

January 11th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos today announced that John Flanagan will serve as Chair of the Senate Education Committee.

Senator Flanagan, a member of the restored Republican majority, represents most of the northwestern corner of Suffolk County (the Town of Smithtown and portions of Huntington and Brookhaven).

Newsday reports,

“I’m very happy to be given the opportunity; I understand the importance of it,” said Flanagan, ticking off property taxes, mandate relief, school assessments and charter schools as some of his priorities. He also acknowledged that, with New York facing a $10-billion budget shortfall, the committee might be in the position of school-aid freezes or reductions rather than increases.

“I will stick to the principle that we need to incorporate fairness and equity” for all regions in whatever funding decisions the legislature makes, said Flanagan, who led the Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee until Democrats took over the chamber in 2009.

Outgoing Chair Suzi Oppenheimer will serve as the ranking (i.e., leading) Democrat on the Committee.

We congratulate Senator Flanagan on his selection and look forward to working with him.

We also thank Senator Oppenheimer for her efforts over the past two years to reduce mandates on schools and to enable wider use of BOCES services.

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Council on Cuomo Mandate Relief Team

January 9th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

In his State of the State Address on Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he would appoint a “Mandate Relief Redesign Team” comprised of representatives of state and local agencies and charged with recommending the elimination of “unnecessary” state mandates in time for the March 31 state budget deadline.

On Friday, the Governor announced the members of this team, including the Council’s Executive Director, Robert Reidy.  I expect to be extensively involved as well.

Every indication we have so far indicates that the new administration understands the need for significant state action to help schools and local governments restrain or reduce costs, especially given its determination to impose a property tax cap and to close a state budget deficit through deep spending cuts.

Because of those other administration priorities which threaten school revenues, the goal of the mandate relief project must also be to help schools redirect spending to preserve their highest priorities, as well as to reduce costs for taxpayers.

It’s been said that everyone can support change, so long as they don’t have to change.  In the same spirit, just about anyone will agree in the abstract that it is desirable to reduce costs for taxpayers.

But getting serious about “mandate relief” requires acknowledging an inescapable mathematical reality:   any effort to keep money in the taxpayer’s pocket, or redirect it to other uses, requires taking it out of someone else’s.

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Category: Finance, Legislation, State Budget | 1 Comment »

Summing up Cuomo’s first SOS

January 5th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address reiterated themes from his campaign and inauguration but did reveal a few more details of his plans.

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Bernard Pierorazio of Yonkers is the 2011 New York State Superintendent of the Year

January 4th, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Happy news for a change!

I could not be more pleased to report that Bernard Pierorazio of Yonkers has been chosen the 2011 New York State Superintendent of the Year.

Below is the text of our news release.  Here is a link to a “PDF” version.

As New York’s choice, Bernard now becomes a candidate for the national superintendent of the year, to be announced by our national affiliate, the American Association of School Administrators, at its conference during the last week in February.

Good luck to him!

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New Year, New Governor

January 3rd, 2011 by Robert Lowry

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s inaugural address was an interesting combination of themes, emphasizing the need to shrink government while also extolling its virtues.

He said nothing about schools or education, but that is not necessarily a surprise.  Inaugural addresses are an opportunity to outline broad themes.  The State of the State message on Wednesday and the Executive Budget in a few weeks will get into specific policy areas.

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