2008 Update from the
New York State Assembly
Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan
Sheldon Silver, Speaker • Catherine Nolan, Chairwoman
March 2008

Education Chairwoman Catherine Nolan Promotes Dialogue with Commissioner Richard Mills of the New York State Department of Education

ALBANY—New York State Assembly Education Chairwoman Catherine Nolan invited Commissioner Richard Mills of the New York State Department of Education to address the Education Committee today, setting the stage for positive collaboration between the two leaders. Senior Deputy Commissioner of Education, Joanna Duncan-Poitier, and Office of Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities Deputy Commissioner, Rebecca Cort, also attended the meeting.

“I want to thank the Commissioner for coming and I look forward to working together to ensure New York students have every opportunity for success,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Education Committee Chair, invited New York State Department of Education Commissioner Richard Mills to address the committee.

Commissioner Mills acknowledged the tremendous challenge faced by legislators who must develop a budget that meets the needs of schools but must do so with an eye toward fiscal responsibility to taxpayers. “The task is to raise achievement. The rest of the world is not giving up. We have to figure it out with the resources we have,” said Commissioner Mills.

Commissioner Mills urged the members of the Education Committee to continue the momentum they have created for the Museum Education Act, even if it means initiating only part of the originally proposed $30 million in funding. The education committee passed the Museum Education Act at its February meeting.

Commissioner Mills asked legislators to take action to restore the $32 million cut in BOCES aid. “BOCES provides high quality low cost services to many districts throughout the state,” said Commissioner Mills. The Assembly budget proposal restores BOCES funding to $684 million, an increase over the Executive of $90 million, and an increase over SY2007-2008 of $61 million.

The members of the committee expressed a number of concerns to Commissioner Mills, including the need for gifted and talented programs and inquiries into the status of the Contracts for Excellence and Foundation Aid Formula.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Education Committee Chair with NYS Dept. of Education Commissioner Richard Mills.

“There is always a great deal to be accomplished with an area as important as the education of children. My focus is and always has been on improving the system of education in any way that will benefit students. I believe that in order to accomplish this goal we must have an open and continuing discussion among leaders. The ‘Contract for Excellence’ between the state and school districts is a true indication of positive change in the right direction. I agree with Commissioner Mills that we must allow time for this policy to show results,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.

“In the coming weeks, the education committee will continue to work with Speaker Silver to develop an effective budget that meets the educational needs of our schools,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.

Education Chair Catherine Nolan Testifies Before New York State Property Tax Commission

ALBANY—Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee, testified about the need for the Commission on Property Tax Relief to demonstrate how the state will implement a property tax cap without compromising education.

“It is indisputable that New Yorkers need property tax relief. But it is also indisputable that money matters when it comes to our children’s education. If we can cap property taxes and maintain our investment in our children’s education and in the future of this state, I will support it,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.

Assemblywoman Nolan reminded the commission that after years of opposition from the former administration, the Assembly Majority under the leadership of Speaker Sheldon Silver had finally received the funding and support necessary to forward long held goals such as Universal Pre-K, smaller class size, school construction and rehabilitation, professional development for teachers and safer schools for everyone.

“We are closing the funding gap. We are closing the achievement gap. We are delivering the hope of a quality education to the children in our poorest communities. We cannot go back on the promises that we have made to our children. We must not.”

—Catherine Nolan
Assembly Education Committee Chair

The Chairwoman expressed concern about the possible threat a property tax cap would pose to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Law Suit which was instrumental in channeling funding to the neediest schools in New York City.

Assemblywoman Nolan asked how New York would avoid the pitfalls faced by California where Proposition 13 had a negative effect on student test scores, class size, programs such as music, art and physical education, staffing and school construction, transferring it from one of the best educational systems 30 years ago to one of the lowest performing today.

“Studies have shown that high wealth school districts or local governments are more likely to override their caps than are low-wealth school districts; further exacerbating the resource disparity among them,” said Assemblywoman Nolan.

This was the second meeting of the Commission on Property Tax Relief led by Chairman and Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi. The Commission will continue to hear testimony throughout the coming months and is expected to make recommendations by May 15, 2008.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan
Assembly Education Committee Chair
NYS Seal
Room 836 LOB
Albany, New York 12248
Fax: 518-455-3847
61-08 Linden Street
Ridgewood, New York 11385
Fax: 718-417-4982
45-25 47th Street
Woodside, New York 11377
E-mail: nolanc@assembly.state.ny.us

New York State Assembly
[ Welcome Page ] [ Committee Updates ]