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Hawley votes against state budget

Staff Reports Posted 1 April 2015 at 12:00 am

Sen. Ortt sees positives with increased school aid

The $142 billion state budget passed the State Legislature, with the Assembly approving the final budget bills at 3 this morning.

State Assemblyman Steve Hawley, R-Batavia, issued this statement about why he opposed the budget.

“I cannot, in good conscience, support a budget that allows the state to have power over the needs of individual school districts and classrooms. The education component of the budget gives the State Department of Education (SED) too much latitude in implementing the teacher evaluation system.

“We should have included teacher groups and school administrators in these decisions instead of leaving it up to bureaucrats and armchair educators. Furthermore, this budget makes no mention of exceptions for special education teachers’ evaluations, whose students will likely struggle with Common Core testing, and we will likely see a large number of students score poorly on Common Core Assessments.

“I cannot support budget measures which include funding for the SAFE Act. The Capital Projects and State Operations budget bills appropriate millions to be used for the SAFE Act database and personnel. It is unfortunate that good legislation is often tainted with politically-advantageous appropriations. I refuse to vote for legislation that funds an irresponsible and shameful measure that was passed in the middle of the night without public input or adequate time for discussion and debate.”

State Sen. Robert Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, represents a district that includes Orleans County. He issued this statement on Tuesday about the education portion of the budget, which passed the State Senate.

“This budget increases state education aid by over $1.4 billion across the state to bring total state education spending in my district to over $457 million – well beyond the levels that the governor proposed,” Ortt said. “It eliminates most of the disastrous Gap Elimination Adjustment, which will save our local schools nearly $18 million. We’re helping our students by reducing over-testing and protecting our kids by removing convicted, violent offenders from the classroom.”

“I also think it was important to take a stand against some of the governor’s more extreme proposals like basing teacher performance evaluations 50 percent on testing, or refusing necessary funding increases without dramatic overhauls of the system. Ultimately, evaluations will be left to the professionals at the State Education Department and the Board of Regents, who will then implement evaluations on a district by district basis.

“It was also critical to fight back against a New York City agenda that wanted to provide taxpayer tuition assistance to illegal immigrants, while so many hard-working New York families struggle to put themselves or their children through college.”