A BUDGET BILL submitted by the Governor in accordance with Article VII of the Constitution
AN ACT to amend the education law, in relation to the calculation and payment of state aid to school districts and boards of cooperative educational services, in relation to the reporting requirements of the commissioner and the board of regents, in relation to school district reorganization, in relation to school facility report cards, in relation to the apportionment for capital outlays and debt service for school building purposes, and in relation to merit based awards to recognize and reward improved student performance; to repeal certain provisions of the education law relating thereto; to amend the local finance law, in relation to periods of probable usefulness; to amend the public authorities law, in relation to the financing of construction of educational facilities by the dormitory authority; to amend the state finance law, chapter 375 of the laws of 2000, authorizing the city school district of the city of Schenectady to finance deficits by the issuance of serial bonds and/or bond anticipation notes; to amend chapter 507 of the laws of 1974, relating to apportionment of state monies for services for nonpublic students in complying with certain state requirements; chapter 88 of the laws of 2000, amending the tax law relating to authorizing the accelerated payment of certain state apportionments to the city school districts of the cities of Buffalo and Yonkers, chapter 60 of the laws of 2000, amending the education law and other laws relating to enacting major components necessary to implement the 2000-2001 state fiscal plan, and chapter 405 of the laws of 1999, amending the real property tax law and other laws relating to enacting major components necessary to implement the 1999-2000 state fiscal plan, in relation to making technical corrections thereto and clarifying legislative intent with regard to certain advances; to amend chapter 221 of the laws of 1998 relating to adjusting certain state aid payments to the Syracuse city school district, the Utica city school district and the Gloversville enlarged city school district regarding employment preparation aid, in relation to making technical corrections thereto; to amend chapter 82 of the laws of 1995, amending the education law and certain other laws relating to state aid to school districts and the appropriation of funds for the support of government, in relation to special education class size; to amend chapter 169 of the laws of 1994, relating to certain provisions related to the 1994-95 state operations, aid to localities, capital projects and debt services budgets, in relation to certain expiration and repeal dates contained therein; and to amend chapter 756 of the laws of 1992, relating to funding a program for work force education conducted by the consortium for worker education in New York city, in relation to reimbursement (A); to amend the arts and cultural affairs law, the state finance law, the parks, recreation and historic preservation law, the executive law and the not-for-profit corporation law, in relation to establishing the office of cultural resources and providing for the orderly transfer of all functions, powers, duties, obligations and assets of the office of cultural education located in the state education department to the office of cultural resources, and to repeal certain provisions of the education law relating thereto (B); to amend the real property tax law, the tax law, the administrative code of the city of New York, the state finance law and the education law, in relation to protecting the taxpayer savings and improving the administration of the school tax relief (STAR) program and establishing a Co-STAR program (C); to amend the real property tax law, in relation to the rail access tax incentive program (D); to amend the education law, in relation to the compilation, review and disposition of the criminal history records of applicants for employment in school districts, boards of cooperative educational services and charter schools (E); to amend the executive law, in relation to reimbursement and fiscal sanctions for detention services (F); to amend the executive law, in relation to the transfer of juvenile offenders from the office of children and family services to the department of correctional services; and to repeal certain provisions of such law pertaining thereto (G); to amend the education law, in relation to state aid to certain independent institutions of higher learning (H); to amend the education law, in relation to increased flexibility of state university and city university in administrative and fiscal functions respecting the establishment of tuition rates for graduate programs (I); and to amend the civil service law, the education law and chapter 363 of the laws of 1998 amending the education law relating to state university health care services and facilities, in relation to the operation of the state university health care facilities (J)
This bill contains various provisions needed to implement the Education, Labor and Family Assistance portion of the 2001-02 Executive Budget.
This bill enacts education reforms implementing recommendations of the 2001-02 Executive Budget including providing school districts with increased flexibility by consolidating various existing aid programs into a new Flex Aid program and better targeting fiscal resources through changes in building aid reimbursement.
Effective July 1, 2001, this bill amends the Education Law to:
School Facilities/Building Aid
Effective immediately, this bill repeals subdivision 6 of section 3602 of the Education Law and replaces it with a new subdivision 6 to provide a simplified methodology for the payment of building aid and to introduce a priority system for the award of building aid which addresses school facility needs and improves the cost-effectiveness of school construction projects. The bill also amends section 409 of the Education Law, the Comprehensive School Building Safety program, to require school facility report cards. Further, it would provide school districts with access to the Dormitory Authority for financing and other services through amendments to the Public Authorities, the Education and the Local Finance Laws. Specific provisions will:
Universal Pre-kindergarten Reserve Account
Effective October 1, 2001, this bill amends the State Finance Law to authorize the Director of the Budget to direct the Comptroller to transfer to the General Fund unspent funds from the universal pre-kindergarten reserve account if school districts have not indicated any plan to spend these funds.
Preschool Special Education
Effective July 1, 2001, the existing restriction on the creation of new or expanded preschool programs which include only children with disabilities will be continued for three years, as will current provisions that allow SED to approve new or expanded non-inclusive preschool programs if there is a demonstrated need for such programs in the community.
Other miscellaneous provisions
This bill also makes other amendments to the Education Law which:
This is a new program.
The proposed Flex Aid program will simplify and reduce the number of existing school aid formulas and also provide school districts with greater flexibility in the use of State aid. Under the proposed formula, nearly 70 percent of total school aid will be made available to school districts through flexible operating aid. This will address concerns that have been articulated about the need to increase the amount of flexible operating aid school districts receive so that they have the flexibility to best target available resources to meet the educational needs of students.
Under the proposed formula, and using the measures of educational and economic need that are included within the formula, the equity of the distribution of aid is improved with nearly 70 percent of the increase going to districts considered to be high-needs districts. Under the current formulas, only 60 percent of the aid increases generated by the 11 existing formulas would have gone to high-needs districts.
Although this approach provides school districts with increased flexibility, it recognizes that schools must be held accountable for satisfactory student performance. Therefore, school districts with identified educational deficiencies will be required to set aside a portion of Flex Aid to ensure that funds are directed to remedy these problems. Similarly, performance measures are also used as the basis for rewarding school districts for improved educational performance.
There are numerous provisions of law governing the multitude of programs that Flex Aid would replace. Key provisions are as follows:
Section 3602 (12) of the Education Law authorizes State funding for operating aid and extraordinary needs aid, sets forth formulas for calculating these aids as well as formulas used to calculate numerous set-asides, and includes several provisions related to reporting requirements and planning requirements;
Section 3602 (16) of the Education Law provides for the payment of tax effort and tax equalization aid;
Section 3602 (18) of the Education Law provides for the factors used in calculating the transition adjustment;
Section 3602(19) and Section 4405 of the Education Law provide for payment of State funding for public and private excess cost aid for special education and set forth the formulas and factors that are used to determine the amount of aid;
Section 3602 (22), (23) and (32) of the Education Law provide the formulas and requirements for receiving aid under the limited English proficiency, gifted and talented and educationally related support services aid programs; and
Section 3602 (38) of the Education Law authorizes and provides a formula for distributing State funding for operating standards aid.
School Facilities/Building Aid
Section 3602 (6) of the Education Law provides for the payment of building aid to school districts for capital costs of school facilities. The current formula relies in large part on reimbursement of actual debt service expenditures and does not place any limitations on the amount of funding for new projects that the State Education Department can approve for State aid in any year.
Various sections of Public Authorities Law, including 1676,1678 and 1680, authorize certain entities to avail themselves of services of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.
Sections 11.00, 90.00 and 90.10 set forth the periods of probable usefulness of capital projects and certain conditions related to financing and refinancing of debt by school districts.
Universal Pre-kindergarten Reserve Account
Section 97-vvv of the State Finance Law provides for the transfer of unspent balances to the General Fund on July 1, 2002. However, it does not address the transfer of such funds prior to that date if school districts do not plan on spending the funds.
Preschool Special Education
Section 4410 of the Education Law governs the provision of preschool special education services to children, including the limitations on establishing new preschool programs that only serve disabled children.
Other miscellaneous provisions
Section 314 of the Education Law provides for periodic updates of the State plan for school district reorganizations; however, this plan has not been updated in over 40 years. Section 3602(14) of the Education Law provides for financial incentives for reorganized school districts.
Section 3602 (26-a) of the Education Law authorizes educational technology aid.
Section 3602 (31-a) of the Education Law provides the formula for payment of small cities aid.
Chapter 507 of the Laws of 1974 provides for the payment of State funds to certain non-public schools.
School Facilities/ Building Aid
New York State’s support of school facilities has increased by 124 percent over the last four years. This rate of growth is unsustainable. To continue State support for necessary school construction, future commitments must be targeted to priority projects.
Under this bill, payment changes are made to ensure sustainable affordability by providing State aid consistent with the period of probable usefulness of the capital construction project. To ensure that this State payment change will not have adverse fiscal implications for school districts, the bill also includes provisions to facilitate refinancing of outstanding debt and provisions for a waiver from the assumed amortization requirements if there are extraordinary circumstances. This will permit both the State and school districts to better plan and manage cash-flow for costs of school construction.
By establishing priority categories for State building aid, this bill also ensures that State resources are targeted to address the most pressing school facility needs such as health/safety and overcrowding. Other changes such as providing an exemption to the Wicks Law, using a simplified rated capacity determination — and — for projects approved by local voters after January 15, 2001 — using the current aid ratio (supplemented by the 10 percent building incentive), will ensure that limited State resources support the most pressing facility needs.
Universal Pre-kindergarten Reserve
Currently, funds must remain on account in the Universal Pre-kindergarten Reserve until July 1, 2002 even if a school district has made a determination that it does not intend to operate a Universal Pre-kindergarten program during the 2001-02 school year. This provision would allow unneeded funds to be transferred from the Universal Pre-kindergarten Reserve to the General Fund.
Preschool Special Education
Provisions of this bill related to preschool special education are intended to ensure that the development of any new preschool special education programs is targeted towards creating those settings which educate children in the least restrictive setting that is appropriate. This is consistent with State and Federal policy that disabled children should be educated with and share as many experiences as possible with their non-disabled peers. However, recognizing that there are instances when specialized classrooms serving only disabled children are needed, the State Education Department would continue to have the flexibility to approve new programs when there is a demonstrated need for such a program.
Other miscellaneous provisions
The existing State plan for reorganization has not been updated since 1958 and criteria used to develop the plan several decades ago do not necessarily reflect current research and understandings about school size and student achievement. This bill ensures that the Commissioner updates this plan for future reorganizations, and provides modified financial incentives for reorganization that are based on an updated rational system.
The existing Instructional Computer Technology program does not operate as originally intended and directs relatively little support to the Big Five Cities and other high-needs districts.
Aid for small city school districts was instituted as a grant program by Chapter 288 of the Laws of 1979 and was intended to provide funds to districts at or near constitutional tax limits. With the removal of small city constitutional tax limits by a referendum in 1985, aid to small city districts was continued to permit the 57 small city school districts to raise their taxes gradually to an appropriate level. This change would effectively re-instate two years of the phase-out.
Establishing a process for funding of academic intervention services to non-public school students will ensure that these students have access to additional academic services as necessary. Limiting such State costs to the appropriated amount will ensure that an affordable amount is dedicated for this purpose.
This bill increases the recognition and visibility of New York’s cultural education programs by establishing a new Office of Cultural Resources within the Executive Department.
This bill provides for:
The responsibility for chartering museums and libraries, and for licensure of public television and radio stations will remain with the Board of Regents. Formulas governing State aid programs, including aid to public libraries and public broadcasting stations, are maintained without any change, except that OCR will administer the aid programs.
The Education Law assigns to SED the responsibility to administer the State Museum (sections 232, 233-a, 234 - 235-b), the State Library (sections 232 and 245 - 252), Library Aid (sections 271 - 285), Public Broadcasting Aid (section 236) and grants for historic documents and records (section 140).
The Arts and Cultural Affairs Law assigns SED the responsibility to administer the State Archives (section 57.05) and the Local Government Records Management program (sections 57.07 - 57.11).
A separate State agency (OCR), whose sole focus would be to develop and promote cultural resources, would increase recognition and visibility of the leading cultural institutions in New York and protect the State’s investment in cultural development. The new Office will:
This bill allows the Regents to focus on their constitutionally assigned role as framers and administrators of educational policy and frees them from the burden of administering ancillary functions (e.g., the State Museum, the State Library, and the State Archives).
This bill establishes a new Co-STAR program to provide county property tax relief to income eligible senior citizens and farmers, protects STAR taxpayer savings by providing a cost of living adjustment for the Enhanced STAR income eligibility ceiling and by placing limitations on school budget increases, and improves the administration of the School Tax Relief (STAR) Program.
This bill establishes a new Co-STAR program that provides a State funded rebate to income eligible senior citizens and farmers to partially offset their county property taxes.
General Definitions and Eligibility Provisions for Senior Citizens
Effective immediately for assessment rolls filed in 2001 and thereafter, this bill adds a new section 425-a to the Real Property Tax Law (RPTL) establishing a new Co-STAR program for those seniors who are currently eligible for the Enhanced STAR exemption. This bill:
General Definitions and Eligibility Provisions for Farmers
Effectively immediately for assessment rolls filed in 2001 and thereafter, this bill adds a new section 425-b to the Real Property Tax Law establishing eligibility criteria for farmers under the Co-STAR program. This bill:
Amendments to the Tax Law
Section 12 of this bill adds a new section 178 to the Tax Law that provides guidelines to the Department of Taxation and Finance for the issuance of Co-STAR rebate checks. This bill:
Section 13 of the bill establishes special procedures for processing Co-STAR assessments for senior citizens on the 2001 assessment rolls.
Section 14 establishes special procedures for processing Co-STAR assessments for farmers on the 2001 assessment rolls.
Section 15 adds paragraph (f) to section 1310 of the Tax Law to create a Co-STAR tax credit that may be claimed by New York City resident taxpayers, who are age 65 and older, effective for 2002 and later tax years. The bill will, in five stages, create a credit in the amount of $120 for married taxpayers filing jointly ($60 for single filers) for tax years starting after 2005.
Section 16 adds subdivision (d) of section 11-1706 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York to make conforming amendments.
Section 18 adds a new section 97-xxx to the State Finance Law creating a sole custody Co-STAR Fund from which the Commissioner of Taxation and Finance will issue Co-STAR rebate checks to eligible applicants.
Protecting School Tax Relief (STAR) Benefits
Cost of Living Adjustment for Enhanced STAR
Effective immediately for school years beginning with 2002-2003 and thereafter, a cost of living adjustment will be made to the income eligibility ceiling for the Enhanced STAR exemption, equivalent to the increase in the consumer price index used by the United States Social Security Administration to annually Adjust Social Security benefits. This cost-of-living adjustment will ensure that modest increases in Social Security or other retirement income do not make seniors currently receiving Enhanced STAR benefits ineligible in future years. (Bill section 4)
Limitations on School Budget Increases
Effective immediately for school years beginning with 2001-2002, this bill adds a new subdivision 6 to section 2022 of the Education Law to require that a school district’s total annual spending increase could not exceed 4 percent, or 120 percent of the increase in the Consumer Price Index for the prior year, whichever is less, without a two-thirds majority vote. Spending increases attributable to enrollment growth, voter-approved capital projects, court orders, and certain other purposes allowed for contingency budgets would be excluded from the increase limitations. When less than two-thirds of the voters approve the budget, the school district may present a proposition to override the cap on one additional occasion. (Bill section 19)
The requirements for limiting spending increases will not apply in the fiscally dependent school districts of the “Big Five” cities, which have their own constitutional tax limits and in which residents do not vote directly on school budgets.
STAR Administrative Improvements and Clarifications
To improve the administration of STAR on a statewide basis, the bill amends Section 425 of the Real Property Tax Law to clarify general eligibility requirements and standardize income years for eligibility for the Enhanced Exemption for seniors, to be effective with STAR administration for 2002-2003. An option to verify senior income eligibility through the Department of Taxation and Finance will be provided, effective with STAR administration for 2003-2004.
Senior Exemption Eligibility Issues
Income requirements: (Bill section 4): To receive the enhanced STAR exemption, an applicant must qualify based on his or her income for the “income tax year immediately preceding the date of making application.” This creates problems in jurisdictions which have taxable status dates earlier than April 15 (as most do), and also leads to unwarranted differentiation among applicants (e.g., some will submit their 2000 income tax returns with their applications for the 2001-2002 school year, and others will file their 1999 returns, depending on when they file their applications). The bill establishes clear and uniform standards by specifying that for the 2002-2003 school year, all applicants will have to qualify based upon their 2000 incomes. The $60,000 income eligibility ceiling would be adjusted for calendar year 2000 incomes by a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) as determined by the State Board of Real Property Services. For each succeeding school year, the income tax year and the income ceiling, with its applicable COLA, will be advanced by one year.
Income verification: (Bill section 11): To ease the burden upon seniors and assessors relative to verifying income eligibility, and to ensure even greater confidentiality of income-related information, the bill provides that applicants for the Enhanced STAR Exemption would have the option of authorizing the Department of Taxation and Finance to verify their income eligibility. If they do so, they will not have to furnish their income tax returns to the assessor upon application.
Filing extensions in hardship cases: (Bill section 6): The bill authorizes the filing of an application for the Enhanced Exemption after the taxable status date, but on or before Grievance Day, where there was a death or illness in the applicant’s immediate family which prevented the applicant from filing a timely application. Similar flexibility currently exists in the context of the senior citizens exemption (RPTL 467(5-a)).
Non-senior siblings:(Bill section 3): A 1999 amendment expanded the Enhanced Exemption to property owned by siblings when only one is 65 or older (Chapter 405, Part A, L.1999). It has been argued that if a senior owns property jointly with his or her non-senior sibling, the Enhanced STAR age requirement is satisfied, even if the senior primarily resides, and is receiving the Enhanced STAR exemption, elsewhere. This proposal clarifies that the property must be the primary residence of the senior sibling in order to receive Enhanced STAR.
General Eligibility Issues
Farm Dwellings: (Bill section 2):Property which is owned in the name of a corporation or partnership rather than an individual is currently ineligible for STAR. This bill provides an exception to that rule for farm dwellings, in recognition of the fact that they are commonly held by family-owned corporations and partnerships.
Special Situations: (Bill section 5): This bill clarifies eligibility for the STAR program for the following situations:
Procedural and Technical Issues
Exemption Terminology: (Bill section 1) : This bill amends subdivision 2 of section 425 of the Real Property Tax Law to clarify and define the terms “basic” STAR exemption and “enhanced” STAR exemption for purposes of the School Tax Relief program.
Additional time to revise estimates of New York City Personal Income Tax revenues foregone: (Bill section 11): Effective immediately, this bill amends section 54-f(3)(c) of the State Finance Law to extend from two years to three years following the initial estimate, the determination period for revising the estimate of the annual amount due to be paid to New York City for tax receipts foregone as a result of Chapter 389 of the Laws of 1997, which reduced City personal income tax rates and created the State School Tax Reduction Credit, with the estimate determined in this third revision to be considered final.
The 2000-2001 Executive Budget included similar proposals for STAR administrative reforms, limiting school district spending increases, making certain farm dwellings eligible for STAR, and for extending the time for revising New York City personal income tax receipt estimates (S.6291/A.9291).
The proposals to provide a cost-of-living adjustment for the Enhanced STAR income eligibility ceiling, the Co-STAR county tax rebate program for income eligible seniors and farmers, and the Co-STAR New York City Personal Income Tax adjustment are new.
This bill further reduces the burden of local property taxes by providing additional relief to seniors and farmers, partially offsetting their county property taxes through a new Co-STAR program. When Co-Star is fully implemented, seniors will save over $300 annually on average, with savings for farmers averaging over $200. When combined with STAR, senior savings will average over $1,200 and savings on farm residences will average over $800. By reducing the property tax burdens on seniors and farmers, this bill will help them remain in their homes and allow family farms to become more competitive and productive, further strengthening the State’s economy.
This bill provides new county property tax relief to income eligible seniors and farmers, protects taxpayer STAR savings from erosion due to excessive school spending and tax increases, provides a cost-of-living adjustment for the income eligibility ceiling for Enhanced STAR, and increases the equity and consistency of the administration of the School Tax Relief (STAR) Program.
The Governor’s STAR program was enacted to provide homeowners with relief from the heavy and growing burden of school taxes. School property taxes in New York State were more than 60 percent higher than the national average and had been increasing at more than twice the rate of inflation over the previous decade. STAR has successfully provided senior citizens throughout the State with dramatic reductions in their school tax bills, and non-seniors are now realizing significant savings as well. This bill ensures that the benefits intended by STAR are not diminished by excessive increases in local school spending and taxes. By capping school budget increases without a two-thirds majority vote, this bill ensures that the intended benefits of STAR are not diminished without careful consideration by voters.
The modifications to eligibility requirements included in the bill open STAR more fully to homeowners and ensure the eligibility of some who were unintentionally excluded. This bill provides more explicit guidance to local officials in many circumstances and ensures like treatment of similar situations in the nearly one thousand different local assessing units responsible for administering the STAR exemption application process.
Verification of income eligibility through the Department of Taxation and Finance will simplify the senior application process, reduce local processing costs and further protect the confidentiality of income tax returns.
Adding another year to the period for revising estimates of New York City income tax receipts foregone due to STAR allows the State Commissioner of Taxation and Finance to determine a more accurate estimate for the amount payable to New York City. Currently, after the initial determination is made, the Commissioner is allowed two revisions in the two years following the initial estimate. A third such revision provides the time necessary to receive more final tax collection data for the year, thereby producing a more accurate calculation of the tax receipts foregone as a result of the STAR program.
This bill enhances New Yorkers’ access to fast and efficient rail services by enacting a Rail Access Tax Incentive program consisting of a package of property tax reductions
and incentives for railroad properties while protecting local tax bases from abrupt reductions.
Section 1 stipulates legislative findings on the current status of taxes on railroad properties and the need for the Rail Access Tax Incentive program.
Sections 2 and 7 amend sections 489-d and 489-dd of the Real Property Tax Law (RPTL), respectively, to establish a 10-year exemption for all newly constructed and rehabilitated capital assets built to improve freight or passenger service with the approval of the State Department of Transportation (DOT). Properties exempt under this provision will become fully taxable after ten years from the completion of the construction project, except to the extent they are eligible for lesser exemptions under other sections of law.
Sections 3 and 9 amend sections 489-g and 489-ii of the RPTL, respectively, to modify the methods by which a railroad system’s reproduction costs are calculated as a basis for the railroad ceilings. Proposed modifications include depreciation of grading (i.e., the earthwork necessary to lay tracks) at 18 percent per year up to 90 percent; exclusion of “soft costs” or overhead costs representing engineering and legal fees, environmental studies, etc.; and accelerated depreciation for tracks owned by companies that show improvements in services.
Sections 4 and 8 amend sections 489-j and 489-hh of the RPTL and alter the schedules of exemption ratios to exempt a larger share of all rail properties, while preserving the existing inverse relationship between company profitability and eligible exemption ratios. The proposed relationship between earnings and exemptions mirrors the relationship previously provided by Chapter 199 of the Laws of 1987 as part of a “Service Enhancement” program which expired in 1992. Additionally, this bill caps the year-to-year decrease in the exemption ratio at 10 percent to help phase-in tax increases as rail companies improve their financial conditions.
Section 5 adds a new section 489-v to the RPTL to authorize DOT to review, approve and monitor capital improvement proposals of railroad companies to establish the eligibility of their capital assets for the exemptions established in sections 489-d and 489-dd.
Section 6 adds a new section 489-w to the RPTL to phase in the proposed tax benefits over 7 years. This section also establishes a transition aid for local governments for a period of 10 years. The aid will fully offset their revenue losses in the first two years of the Rail Access Tax Incentive program and continue at 50 percent of local revenue losses for the remaining eight years.
Titles 2-A and 2-B of Article 4 of RPTL provide ceilings on the assessments that can be placed on the transportation real property of, respectively, intrastate and interstate railroad companies. The railroad ceiling program was originally enacted by Chapter 636 of the Laws of 1959 (the Purcell Act). These ceilings are determined by the State Office of Real Property Services from the reproduction cost of railroad transportation property in each assessing unit reduced by depreciation, certain exclusions and a schedule of exemption ratios which confers larger exemptions on less profitable companies.
This bill reflects the tentative agreements reached in legislative negotiations in 2000 on a similar bill (S.8032) introduced at the Governor’s request. The negotiated version (A.11540) was not completed in time for a final vote in the Legislature.
This bill extends the State’s tax cut policy to the rail transportation industry which is in dire need of massive investments for modernization, expansion and safety upgrades, while facing strong competition from other modes of transportation. The State’s economy, especially the upstate economy, will be strengthened by an infusion of new capital triggered by the proposed reduction of approximately 45 percent in the property tax on railroad properties. The bill will help ensure the viability of railroads by:
The transition aid established by this bill protects local governments from potential fiscal problems. By fully compensating localities for the revenue losses in the first two years and providing 50 percent reimbursement for the following eight years, this bill affords municipalities and school districts sufficient time to adjust their finances to the change in the tax base. Further, the increased investment and enhanced services of railroads, which are likely to result from these proposed incentives, would contribute to long-term increases in local economic activity and tax revenues.
This bill increases the safety of students and staff in the State’s schools by conforming the administration of criminal history checks for prospective school employees to the administration of criminal history checks used for prospective employees in daycare settings.
Effective July 1, 2001, this bill amends the Education Law to:
This bill amends Chapter 180 of the Laws of 2000 which established a statewide program to fingerprint all prospective employees of school districts, charter schools and BOCES (as well as employees of their contractors who have direct contact with students) and to compile and verify their criminal history records. Under that Chapter, which takes effect on July 1, 2001, SED, with the assistance of the DCJS and the FBI, is required to review the criminal history records and determine whether a prospective public school employee is cleared for employment. The current law does not:
By drawing on existing legislation addressing the safety of children in daycare settings, this bill strengthens Chapter 180 and enhances school safety:
This bill permits the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to impose sanctions in the event a detention facility does not comply with regulations governing secure and non-secure detention programs. It also authorizes OCFS to promulgate regulations establishing cost standards governing local detention spending.
Subdivision 5 of section 503 of the Executive Law is amended by adding language permitting OCFS to promulgate regulations regarding the imposition of fiscal penalties and the right to a hearing before the penalty is imposed. A new paragraph (d) is added permitting OCFS to impose penalties when a facility is found to be in violation of OCFS program regulations or when certification has been suspended or revoked. Conforming changes are also made removing references to the Division for Youth and replacing them with the Office of Children and Family Services.
Subdivision 4 of section 530 of the Executive Law is amended to make conforming language changes removing references to the Division for Youth and replacing them with the Office of Children and Family Services. A new paragraph (d) is also added requiring OCFS to review claims for reasonableness and need. It also authorizes OCFS to promulgate regulations regarding standards of payment for detention services.
Section 530 of the Executive Law currently delineates the standards for reimbursement for detention services, providing local social service districts with reimbursement of 50 percent of the amount spent for care, maintenance and supervision of youth placed in detention facilities for youth considered local charges, and 100 percent of the amount spent for youth considered State charges. Administrative costs are capped at 17 percent of total expenditures for facilities with 25 or more beds and 21 percent of total expenditures for facilities with fewer than 25 beds. Provisions governing the administrative cap were added by Chapter 169 of the Laws of 1994.
This bill places OCFS in a stronger position to enforce standards of care. Juvenile detention facilities are subject to regulatory oversight and supervision, including certification and inspection OCFS. While OCFS can refuse to certify a detention facility based on its failure to comply with regulations (9 NYCRR Part 180), there is currently no provision enabling the State to sanction detention facilities. In addition, this bill promotes the cost effective provision of detention services by authorizing OCFS to develop cost standards that limit unnecessary local spending.
This bill permits the Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) to transfer 16 and 17 year old Juvenile Offenders to the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) through an administrative procedure rather than returning the matter to the sentencing court.
Subdivision 4 of section 508 of the Executive Law is repealed; and the remaining subdivisions are renumbered accordingly.
The minimum age for administrative transfer of juvenile offenders to the Department of Correctional Services is reduced from 18 to 16 years of age; and statutory references are changed from the Division for Youth to the Office of Children and Family Services.
Section 508 of the Executive Law allows the administrative transfer of juvenile offenders from Office of Children and Family Services (Division for Youth) to the Department of Correctional Services at age 18 upon certification by the Commissioner (Director) that there is no substantial likelihood that the youth will benefit from the programs offered in Office (Division) facilities.
Sixteen and seventeen year old Juvenile offenders may be transferred to the Department of Correctional Services by order of the sentencing court based upon a finding that there is no substantial likelihood that the youth will benefit from the programs offered in OCFS facilities.
Juvenile Offenders who are still in the custody of the Office of Children and Family Services (Division for Youth) at age 21 must be transferred to the Department of Correctional Services to serve the remainder of their sentences.
Regulations and standards regarding the transfer of youth have been in place for several years, and there is no basis for the disparate treatment of DOCS transfers of Juvenile Offenders who are under the age of 18 and those who are over the age of 18. Moreover, these youth will be transferred to DOCS at the age of 21 to serve out the remainders of their sentences. Providing for a transfer upon certification by the Commissioner will enable OCFS to focus on those youth offenders who have the greatest chance of immediately benefitting from rehabilitative services, while still providing the transferred youth appropriate services at DOCS.
This bill amends the Education Law to restrict State aid to certain independent colleges and universities (commonly known as Bundy aid) to degrees awarded to New York State residents.
Section 6401 of the Education Law allocates State aid to independent colleges and universities based on the number of earned associate, baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degrees conferred in the previous academic year irrespective of the place of residence of the graduating student.
By limiting Bundy aid to the number of earned degrees conferred upon graduates who are residents of the State, New York taxpayers will no longer be required to subsidize the education of out-of-state residents.
This bill provides increased flexibility for the Trustees of the State University of New York (SUNY) and the City University of New York (CUNY) in establishing tuition rates for graduate programs.
It amends the Education Law to limit, to undergraduate programs, the mandate that students enrolled in programs leading to like degrees be charged uniform rates of tuition at SUNY and CUNY State-operated institutions.
Sections 355 and 6206 of the Education Law mandate that all students enrolled in programs leading to like degrees at SUNY’s and CUNY’s State-operated institutions be charged a uniform rate of tuition, except for differential tuition rates based on State residency and differential tuition charged at SUNY colleges of agriculture and technology (which can only be lower than tuition charged for like programs at other SUNY institutions).
The prohibitions against differential tuition at the graduate levels of study prevent the SUNY and CUNY Trustees from establishing tuition rates which recognize the legitimate distinctions that exist among the diverse types of institutions and programs comprising the State and City Universities, and inhibit the Trustees from generating additional needed revenues in a manner sensitive to the needs of each campus.
This bill improves the competitiveness of the State University of New York’s (SUNY) teaching hospitals and clinics by providing additional procurement and employment flexibility for these facilities. This bill also enhances operational oversight of the SUNY hospitals at Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse by establishing a local Board of Directors at each facility.
Effective April 1, 2001, this bill will:
Recent developments in the health care marketplace, including Medicare budget cuts, deregulation of hospital rates and the growth of managed care, have made the delivery of health care in New York State increasingly more competitive. SUNY’s teaching hospitals and clinics, by virtue of the various legal constraints imposed on them as State institutions, are currently unable to compete effectively. Specifically, SUNY’s teaching hospitals and clinics are being hampered by time-consuming public contracting and bidding rules, legal limitations on their ability to enter into joint ventures with other health care organizations, and institutional obstacles to their development of vertically and horizontally integrated delivery networks. Providing SUNY’s teaching hospitals and clinics with added management flexibility will enable them to work cooperatively with other health care providers to develop high-quality, cost-effective systems of care. Increased management flexibility and autonomy will also promote more effective long-term planning, expedite short-term decision-making and help ensure the future competitiveness and financial stability of SUNY’s teaching hospitals and clinics.
The creation of local Boards of Directors for SUNY’s teaching hospitals at Brooklyn, Stony Brook and Syracuse will ensure that each facility operates within statutory and regulatory guidelines is accountable — similar to other hospitals throughout the State — to a local oversight board, and is able to respond quickly to changing operational and local health care delivery needs.
Enactment of this bill is necessary to implement the 2001-2002 Executive Budget, specifically:
This bill will have the following 2001-02 financial impacts:
The 2001-02 Executive Budget recommends a transfer of $28.44 million (including $9.44 million in the General Fund) from SED to OCR and provides for additional transfers consistent with the provisions of this bill.
The Co-STAR program will incur initial administrative costs in the first year which will be funded through 2001-2002 fiscal year appropriations. Out-year program costs are estimated at $50 million in the 2002-2003 State fiscal year, growing to approximately $230 million by 2006-2007.
Extending the STAR exemption to some currently ineligible properties, and providing a cost of living adjustment to the income ceiling for Enhanced STAR will increase the future costs for the program to a very limited degree. Expanding the STAR benefits under this bill should not significantly increase costs because many of the properties identified are already included in the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimates of owner occupancy used to formulate STAR cost estimates.
Capping school districts’ spending should moderate the rate of increase in school taxes, thus also moderating the rate of increase in future State costs for STAR exemption reimbursements.
Verification of income eligibility through the Department of Taxation and Finance will reduce local administrative costs, and thus the need for State assistance to local governments.
The 2001-02 Executive Budget includes $4.7 million for the proposed aid to local governments. During the 10 year life of the transition aid program, the State is expected to pay up to $70 million in total to approximately 600 local taxing jurisdictions.
This bill ensures that SED has the ability to create, verify and maintain criminal history records for prospective school employees within the funds recommended for 2001-02. Absent this legislation, SED’s administrative costs are likely to exceed the $1 million budgeted for this purpose.
When fully implemented in 2002-03, this bill will result in annual savings of $1 million.
Full annual savings of $1 million are assumed in the 2001-2002 Executive Budget due to closing two units at the Harlem Valley Secure Center. Savings to counties will also accrue as the State and counties share equally in the cost of care of youth in OCFS facilities.
This bill would result in General Fund savings of $9.6 million in the Bundy aid program for the 20001-02 fiscal year.
The flexibility provided to SUNY and CUNY is tended to allow the State’s public universities to develop innovative approaches to meeting the graduate educational needs of the State’s citizens. Differential tuition for graduate programs provides campuses with a tool to generate additional revenues that can be used to strengthen programs.
The 2001-2002 Executive Budget recommends the transfer of $51.4 million in additional support to the SUNY hospitals as part of a strategic plan whereby the hospitals will generate additional savings and revenues made possible through this flexibility legislation.
This act shall take effect April 1, 2001, except:
The key provisions of this part are effective on July 1, 2001 with certain provisions related to building aid and reorganization incentive aid effective January 15, 2001.
Effective dates of the specific provisions vary. Generally, key provisions to protect STAR savings and those affecting eligibility for STAR are effective beginning in the 2002-2003 school year. The Co-STAR rebate would be effective for 2002 county taxes. The option to verify income for the Enhanced STAR exemption through the Department of Taxation and Finance would be effective for 2003-2004.
This part takes effect immediately, subject to other qualifying provisions.
This part takes effect on the same date that Chapter 180 of 2000 takes effect (i.e., July 1, 2001).
This part takes effect on September 1, 2001.