The State Legislature is back in session: what can we expect?

Gideon John Tucker was a Surrogate Judge of New York County, in 1866 he wrote in a decision on a legal malpractice claim against a deceased lawyer’s estate: “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”   Beware

The newly elected legislature has been sworn in and should be overjoyed, Governor Hochul signed their 29% salary increase; however the Senate may reject her choice for head of the NYS Courts. (“I’ve got a little list ”)

Cuomo fils and Shelly Silver ruled the state with iron fists; the legislature is reasserting itself with Hochul.

A little Civics lesson, I know, I know, but I’m a Social Studies teacher and you can’t allow the “teachable moment” to pass.

We have a newly elected governor who was elected by an uncomfortably close vote, 150 Assembly and 62 Senate members overwhelmingly Democrats and “progressive” in policy leanings.

On January 10th the governor gave her State of the State address laying out her goals for the legislative session. Major housing initiatives, in-patient and outpatient psychiatric care, and a host of other plans all requiring legislative approval. See details here.

The State of the State speech is an “event,” I attended a few times, receptions, legislators, staffs, lobbyists, advocates all making contacts. (“My people will call your people”)

Later in January the governor will release her preliminary budget setting the budget parameters. The governor in New York controls the size of the budget and under Cuomo included many non-budgetary items in the budget; the state constitution and a number of appeals court decisions affirmed the procedure; however, last year the legislature refused, the budget only contained actual budget items.  I suspect the upcoming budget; once again will be limited to actual budget items. In her first budget, Hochul initially included many non-budget items, including a four year extension of mayoral control, only to have mayoral control pushed into the post budget months as the legislature objected.

In February each chamber will propose “one-house” budgets and in March negotiate and pass a budget in the waning hours of March; usually a marathon session with a few “plums” for the more wily legislators.

What are the major budget issues?

If the Senate refuses to confirm Hochul’s choice for chief judge the budget process could become contentious, with an uncertain state economic future Hochul could choose to deposit dollars in a “rainy day” fund while the legislature wants to fund programs not on the governor’s list. Hochul will comply with last year’s agreement to fully fund state education aid (See here) . Additionanl proposals, light on details will be expanded in the executive budget proposal And the question of the funding formula, no one is happy with the current formula; however, the legislature has shown no appetite to take on the complex formula: will this year be different?

How will Charter Schools fare in the session?

Not well.  New York City has a cap on the number of charter schools and the charter lobby, led by Eva Moskowitz is been pushing hard to raise the cap. The state (NYSUT) and the city teacher unions (UFT) were early and enthusiastic supporters of Hochul, I don’t think charter cap will ever see the light of day.

Mayor Adams, who already has a frayed relationship with the legislature had his school board, the NYC school board is called the Panel for Educational Priorities (PEP), vote to allow a number of co-locations of Success Charter Schools in existing schools over the virulent objections of local elected school boards (called Community Education Councils (CEC) and I would not be surprised if legislation was introduced to grant CECs power over charter school sites.

The more progressive legislators may push for other transparency issues in regard to auditing of charter school funding and operations.

Will Mayoral Control be on the agenda?

Last year the legislature firmly rejected a four year extension granting a two year extension (until 6/30/24) and added parent members to the PEP, the mayor kept his majority. The legislature may begin a process, maybe a task force and/or public hearings to explore an alternative to mayoral control. 

Over the two years of the session (1/1/23- 1/1/25) around 15,000 bills will be introduced, maybe 500 will become law. Some legislators introduce hundreds of bills, others a few score. 

A bill to make, SUNY and Community Colleges free (see bill here), a bill to assure New York City abides by a “Maintenance of Effort (MOE).” All state education dollars go to education (see bill here), other bills obscure, a bill prohibits the tail docking of cattle (see bill here)

The historic class size reduction bill was introduced in the waning days of the session, and zipped to the governor’s desk.

I’ll try and keep you in the loop.

Remember, all politics is local, your elected is influenced by you: 

Who are your state legislators? How do you contact them?

2 responses to “The State Legislature is back in session: what can we expect?

  1. Hochul ran such a weak campaign against what should have been an insignificant opponent that she turned the US House of Representatives over to the Republicans. The State Democratic Party, and by extension, the Democrats in the Legislature are complicit as well.

    Where’s the accountability, introspection, and yes, the humility?


    • lots of turlmoil within the Democratic Party, and fingerpointing, the resistence to modifying bail reform on the part of the “progessives,” pretty blatant racist appeal by Zeldin and weak party leadership, The Dems still have overwhelming majorities in both houses,


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