The 2019 Legislative Session has officially ended this morning after a couple of all-night marathons, which means (barring the calling of a special session from the Governor) that’s a wrap on this year in Albany!
With many thanks to you, our talented and dedicated partners in advocacy, and the relentless work of our CEO Anna Hall, we were able to navigate a challenging new landscape in Albany and successfully advocate on behalf of the charter sector state-wide. This legislative session is being cast as one of the most productive sessions in modern political history and our lobbyists literally worked around the clock putting together hundreds of meetings and spending thousands of hours negotiating in the halls of the capital.
Since January, over 14,900 bills have been introduced and nearly 1,000 of those were passed by both houses and we couldn’t be more proud to have played a role in this session on your behalf.
Read on for a summary of the last six months and the legislation that will impact you and your school.
VOTING: Starting this year, schools (including charter schools) and all employers will be mandated to allow employees up to three hours of paid time-off at either the beginning or end of the work day for purposes of voting. This applies to all elections, including both primary election and general election days. This law is currently being challenged by other school groups and we’ll let you know if anything changes, but for now we would recommend considering building into your calendar an early release day for November 5th.
VACCINATIONS: Effective last week, the State removed the religious exemption to the requirement that children be vaccinated against measles and other diseases to attend a public, private, or parochial school.
PENDING LEGISLATION AND ACTIVITY
“POISON PILLS:” The biggest win we can be grateful for this year is the lack of movement of “poison pills” (regulatory requirements that seem reasonable, but are truly intended to make it impossible for charters to operate) which would have adversely impacted the sector. We intervened on over 130 bad bills intended to harm charter schools statewide, including proposals to cut off facility support for NYC charters, removing SUNY as an authorizer, preventing any further growth or replication in upstate, requiring students to only come from the district where a charter is located, and giving local governments the ability to veto the approval of a charter.
UPCOMING LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS: We are hearing rumors that both the Senate and the Assembly intend to host charter school-related legislative hearings some time in the fall. We will notify you as soon as we learn more.
PREVAILING WAGE: The legislature came close to passing a bill that would have authorized prevailing wage (a higher, union wage) on all “public” projects, which included charter school construction and renovations. We anticipate that this new law would have a significant impact on the costs of school projects across the state. At the very last minute this bill got bottled up in the process but we believe it will be one of the first things the legislature looks to move in January.
NYC CHARTER CAP: Unfortunately, expansion of the NYC charter cap was not addressed this year. As NYC charter waitlists continue to grow, we will continue advocating for this common-sense policy change with the hope we’ll gain some traction during the 2020 legislative session.
FUNDING NEWS FROM APRIL 1 BUDGET
PER-PUPIL RATES: Charter schools are now subject to a new funding formula, which resulted in a per-pupil tuition increase for nearly every school in New York State this year. Immediately following the budget’s passage we sent you new rates for the 2019-2020 school year. SED’s officially released numbers accurately match our initial projections.
SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDING: The state will release $40 million in supplemental charter school funding in a disbursement by the end of July that was secured in last year’s budget. This amounts to just over $271 per-pupil. If you are in New York City, you will receive an additional one-time $189 per student (for a total of about $460). This funding was secured during last year’s budget cycle and we were proud to be able to protect this one-time funding from 2018 to ensure disbursement happened this year.
NYC CHARTERS BULLET AID: This year’s budget included a one-time additional $24.9 million in bullet aid for New York City charter schools exclusively.
SCHOOL AID: School aid increased over $1 billion for a total of $27.9 billion, representing a 3.8% growth from last year. Based on the new funding formula charter schools are under, we can anticipate that this district school aid increase will likely impact your funding next year (your increases are formulaically tied to theirs, just with a lag).
As we move into the 2019-2020 school year, we are going to be convening leaders in each region to get your input on what comes next. The 2020 legislative session is primed to include major fights over charter schools and charter issues across the State and we are going to need to band together if we want to survive. More to come.
P.S.— Here’s a recap on what was passed this session that you may have missed outside of our sector:
- A permanent 2% property tax cap
- A major rent regulation package
- Criminal justice reform, including bail reform, speedy trial, and fixing the discovery process
- A congestion pricing framework for NYC to fund the MTA
- An internet sales tax and an increased tax on wealthy properties ($25 million or more)
- A commission to look at public campaign financing
- Prohibiting the use of plastic bags across the State
- An aggressive emissions reduction bill to combat climate change
- Restoring the ability for undocumented immigrants to get drivers licenses
- Voting reforms, including early voting
- Overhaul of teacher evaluations and getting rid of APPR
- Enacting the DREAM Act
- GENDA – Prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity
- Codification of Roe v. Wade
- And a favorite of mine, a new law that prevents fisherman from using purse seine’s to catch menhaden fish. It’s a thing.