Governor Hochul and Charter Schools Why Has She Thrown Down the Gauntlet?

The State Constitution grants the governor wide authority in the budgeting process.

 … the governor shall submit to the legislature a budget containing a complete plan of expenditures proposed to be made before the close of the ensuing fiscal year and all moneys and revenues estimated to be available therefor, together with an explanation of the basis of such estimates and recommendations as to proposed legislation, if any, which the governor may deem necessary to provide moneys and revenues sufficient to meet such proposed expenditures. It shall also contain such other recommendations and information as the governor may deem proper and such additional information as may be required by law. 

In early January the governor, as per the Constitution, submits a budget, a plan, to the legislature, referred to as the executive budget; in early March both houses of the legislature release “one-house” budgets, the response of the legislature to the governor’s executive budget. By the end of the state fiscal year the state is required to have agreed to the budget for the fiscal year (4/1 – 3/31)

See the 166 page Executive Budget here

See Assembly One-House Budget here

See Senate “One-House Budget here

The Hochul pro-charter language is absent from the current one-house budgets.

The process is far from smooth, since the time of Governor Pataki, and affirmed by the courts, the powers of the legislature are limited. The dueling resulted in late budgets, sometimes days, other times months. In order to keep the state functioning the legislature passed “continuing resolutions” to allow the state to continue both pay its bills.  (See details here). The budget process can get messy, very messy; although Cuomo’s budgets were on time.

Additionally Governor Cuomo used the budget to pass otherwise controversial bills that wouldn’t have passed through the “regular business” process. In 2014 NYSUT, the state teacher union did not endorse Cuomo in the Democratic primary; they made no endorsement, in the following legislative session Cuomo increased teacher tenure from three years to four years in the budget process. Clearly Cuomo was a governor who would rather be feared than loved, probably a copy of The Prince at his bedside.

With the resignation of Cuomo in August, 2022 Hochul, a virtually unknown Lieutenant Governor assumed the Albany crown, In the subsequent legislative session the legislature made it clear, the state budget would only contain budget issues. And so it was. Hochul’s 2022 Executive Budget was stripped of non-budgetary items.

Hochul’s opponent in her first gubernatorial election was Lee Zeldin, a congressman from the Eastern End of Long Island and an unapologetically pro Trumper.  In the 2020 presidential election Biden received 61% of the vote, Trump 36%, an overwhelming victory.

While polling strongly favored Hochul as the race moved forward the race continued to narrow.  The New York State United Teachers, the state teachers union and especially the United Federation of Teachers, the New York City local “got out the troops,” phone banks, door knocking, all of the activities vital to winning elections Teachers live in every election district in the state and teachers vote, as do their families

Hochul won by 5.6%, in 2016 Cuomo won by 24%, and, votes from New York City made the difference.

Surprisingly, very surprisingly, the current, 23-24Hochul Executive Budget proposes,

  • Eliminate the regional cap on the number of charters that may be issued in New York City. This will grant New York City applicants access to 84 charters still available.
  • Permanently authorize the reissuance of any charter originally issued to a charter school that subsequently closed after July 1, 2015 due to surrender, revocation, termination or non-renewal. As of September 2022, the last public update from SED, there were 22 zombie charters, with 14 in NYC and 8 in the rest of the state.

Why would Hochul directly challenge teacher unions, especially the UFT after their vigorous, perhaps decisive, support of her candidacy? Why was she so ungrateful?

Both houses of the legislature have aggressively opposed her pro charter position.

Why is she challenging a core union position?


The “three persons in a room” process is a negotiation, one item is traded for another item; perhaps she is just using charter expansion as a bargaining chip,

Or, responding to her defeat over the selection of the top state judge by flexing her muscles and charter schools seemed like an option,

Or, she’s a “closet” charter zealot,

While her next election is way down in the line, 11/26, maybe she’s seeking to build a war chest, dollars from charter supporters, potential democratic candidates are already sniffing.

Winning back teacher unions will be difficult, and, unnecessary, why challenge them in the first case? Politics makes for strange bedfellows.

Some see her as way over her head; former Governor Eliot Spitzer picked David Patterson as Lieutenant Governor, and when Patterson replaced the disgraced Spitzer he was a disaster, a NY Magazine, read, Eliot’s Problem Child, maybe Cuomo’s revenge.

In the 1860s a New York State judge wrote in a decision, “No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”

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