Declaring that the “state of the state is strong, but we still have work to do,” Gov. Kathy Hochul detailed her legislative agenda for the year ahead in her 2023 State of the State address on Jan. 10. She pledged to continue the state’s commitment to fully funding Foundation Aid, and detailed increases for a number of initiatives supported by the statewide union.
“Governor Hochul's historic commitment to invest in our public schools is a huge step forward and is exactly what our state needs,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta, noting that fully funded Foundation Aid will dramatically improve the lives of students, educators and families across New York. He also commended the governor's plan to connect the state minimum wage to inflation, which will provide much-needed financial relief to families across the state.
"We celebrate the governor's ongoing commitment to building a world-class public school system that supports New Yorkers at every stage of their educational lives, from universal pre-K to affordable, equitable higher education through SUNY, CUNY and community colleges,” he said.
Hochul, noting that “too many schools provide no level of mental health support,” proposed broadening in-school mental health services by increasing reimbursements for school-based health centers via Medicaid and increasing coverage for young children through private insurance. “We need to provide services now, to stop them [children] from needing intensive services in the future,” she said.
For higher education, Hochul’s State of the State message included several initiatives to boost enrollment and expand access for students. She renewed her commitment to increasing completion rates, preparing students for in-demand jobs, ensuring a world-class student experience, recruiting top faculty, providing a wide range of degrees and credentials and doubling sponsored research, startups and patents for NY’s higher education system.
Pallotta applauded Hochul’s pledge to seriously address mental health concerns affecting students, families and educators across the state and termed her comprehensive approach to public education, including universal pre-K, support for community schools and a commitment to affordable higher education through SUNY, CUNY and community colleges, a “much-needed step to help ensure the safety of our schools and improve long-term outcomes for our children.
"We're eager to review the governor's full budget proposal later this month and look forward to working with her and our partners in the Legislature to ensure that the final state budget delivers on the recommendations we outlined in our Future Forward report last year,” said Pallotta.
In her State of the State address and governing agenda, Hochul proposed:
- Investing an additional $2.7 billion in Foundation Aid for New York state school districts, a 13 percent increase.
- Dedicating $250 million in Foundation Aid to high-impact tutoring programs statewide.
- Allocating $125 million for universal prekindergarten, making it roughly 95 percent funded.
- Creating a $20 million grant program to expand early college high school and Pathways in Technology Early College High School programs, which allow students to earn college credits while still in high school.
- Investing $10 million in competitive funding over two years so that school districts, BOCES and community colleges can develop strategic workforce plans that promote job readiness in collaboration with local industry.
- Increasing reimbursements for school-based health centers via Medicaid
- Increasing mental health coverage for school-aged children through private insurance.
- Providing up to $500 million in state-matching funds for endowment contributions to SUNY’s four university centers at Buffalo, Binghamton, Albany and Stony Brook
- Funding $200 million in digital and IT infrastructure across the SUNY system and $200 million in capital funding for research labs.
- Providing greater financial stability for SUNY and CUNY.
- Providing direct admission for all graduating high school students to their local community colleges.
- Initiating a pilot project to link the SUNY admissions processes of different campuses so that students who are not accepted at a specific school are automatically considered for admission at other institutions. This could provide students with greater access to a local and affordable higher education option.