Various lawmakers and organizations offered responses to Governor Cuomo's budget and reform plan on Tuesday.
A roundup follows:
New York Senator Mark Grisanti issued a statement on the 2012 budget plan. It reads:
"I applaud Governor Cuomo and his team for their work on the 2012 budget. We look forward to passing an on-time and balanced budget to eliminate the state's deficit while ensuring important government services are not impacted.
I am also pleased to see that Environmental Protection Funding held level at $134 million, and the commitment the Governor has in Western New York to get our private sector economy rolling again. In addition, this budget starts the much needed discussion of true mandate relief, including the state takeover of Medicaid growth, which I support.
I do have some questions about how this budget impacts Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the NFTA, two vital services to Western New York.
I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work on the 2012 budget so we can pass the budget on-time for the second consecutive year."
The Amherst Chamber of Commerce issued a statement on the plan as well. It reads:
The Amherst Chamber of Commerce is greatly encouraged by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2012-2013 budget proposal. Today’s plan is a positive second step following first year’s successful budget proposal and passage.
The Chamber is especially pleased by the governor’s inclusion of mandate relief measures for county costs on Medicaid. The organization today also announced its support of Senate Bill 5889 sponsored by Senators Gallivan and McDonald.
“The Senators’ efforts to freeze local contributions to Medicaid, followed by a gradual state assumption of all non-federal Medicaid costs, is applauded,” said Colleen DiPirro and Earl Wells, III, President of the Amherst Chamber and Chair of the Chamber’s Public Affairs Council, respectively. Continued DiPirro, “the Governor’s inclusion of this important cost saving measure in his 2012 – 2013 budget plan shows that he intends to continue a productive and prosperous relationship with the State’s Legislature. I am confident that the important items contained in the Executive Budget will be given their due diligence by both houses of the legislature.”
Regarding other aspects of the Executive Budget, the Amherst Chamber of Commerce is particularly pleased by the blueprint for economic development contained within it. The Western New York Regional Economic Development Council, of which DiPirro is a member, created a comprehensive strategic plan for development in this area. The governor’s continued commitment to funding projects and proposals throughout the State is a welcome addition to the State’s budget.
New York State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr. on Tuesday said he and the Board of Regents welcome Governor Cuomo's leadership on the issue of teacher and principal evaluations.
King said he’s hopeful the Governor’s actions spur negotiations resulting in a rigorous, transparent, and fair evaluation system as envisioned in the State's Race to the Top application. King said the State Education Department regulations issued last year were a good starting point for public negotiations.
"The Governor is right to be frustrated," King said in a news release. "So far, there hasn’t been much progress. Earlier this month, I suspended School Improvement Grants because participating districts had failed to meet the deadline for acceptable agreements on evaluations. Now, the Governor has given SED and New York State United Teachers 30 days to resolve this issue definitively. We should use those 30 days to have a healthy public debate on evaluations. We’re ready to sit down and start talking.
"There’s more than a billion dollars at risk. We cannot fail to meet the commitments New York State made in Race to the Top. More importantly, we cannot fail the students who are counting on us to deliver the education they need to succeed in college and careers."
King added he believes the Governor’s call for New York State United Teachers to end its lawsuit and his plan to link additional state aid to local bargaining on evaluations are positive steps toward resolving evaluation negotiations across the State.
King said the evaluation system described in New York's Race to the Top application: relies on multiple measures including student performance; differentiates educator performance into four categories (highly effective, effective, developing, and ineffective); ensures appropriate professional development; provides for the expedited removal of ineffective educators who fail to improve despite support; and will help raise student achievement. King noted that the on-going NYSUT litigation and the failure of the School Improvement Grant districts to meet the deadline for bargaining constitute evidence of the need to clarify the 2010 evaluation law to incorporate the principles embraced by the Governor and adopted in the Board of Regents regulations last spring.
Included in the SED regulations are several key principles that King said should be included in a negotiated agreement:
*In addition to the 20 percent of the evaluation based on a state-determined measure of student growth using state assessments, districts should have the option to also use the state assessments for the local 20 percent student performance measure;
*Of the 60 percentage points of the evaluation based on subjective measures, 40 of those percentage points should be based on classroom observations;
*Evaluations should be based on multiple observations which are more reliable than a single observation;
*Evaluations must be rigorous and teachers rated “ineffective” on both the state and local measures of student performance should not be able to receive positive ratings;
*The State Education Department should have the authority to require corrective action, including the use of independent evaluators, when districts evaluate their teachers positively regardless of students’ academic progress;
*School districts must retain their authority to terminate non-tenured probationary teachers and should not be burdened with new bureaucratic obstacles to removing unsuccessful non-tenured probationary teachers; and
*Appeals should be timely and expeditious.