Matt Ryan/WMHT

Nurse Practitioners Modernization Act now law

After years of trying, advocates of the Nurse Practitioners Modernization Act have now seen it become law in New York State. Now the next challenge is getting the word out.
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Matt Ryan/WMHT

Broadband push in New York

The Cuomo Administration hopes to fix New York’s communication problem by giving everyone in the state high-speed internet access through a new program called Connect New York. Its goal is to make sure residents in the underserved urban and rural parts of the state can access the internet at 25Mbps and eventually expand that to 100Mbps by providing state matching grants to broadband service providers. But is reaching some of New York’s most underserved regions as easy as logging on?
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Less than a month after it was enacted, Governor Cuomo’s new teacher evaluation plan seems to be in jeopardy, with the Regents Chancellor calling for a year’s delay and a key Senator saying the legislature needs to revisit the issue.

When Cuomo convinced the legislature to approve a new teacher evaluation system the relies more on standardized tests,  his administration said that the State Board of Regents would have very limited power to make any changes including compliance with a November deadline to come up with new performance reviews.

Earth Day 2015 is also the first day that the New York State Assembly is transitioning to a paperless system. Assemblymembers have been given iPads to read bills electronically, and supporters say it will save millions of dollars, and trees.

Majority Leader Joe Morelle announced the change on the Assembly floor.

“Today we begin officially with tablets,” Morelle said.

Getting rid of the piles of paper that clutter members’ desks each day required a constitutional amendment, which voters approved last fall.  

The Speaker of the Assembly is defending himself against a newspaper report that he profited from his late mother’s embezzlement crimes.

The final stretch of the legislative session began as more accusations arose about potential wrongdoing by top legislative leaders.

Karen Dewitt

The head of the state’s largest teachers’ union predicts that the legislature and Governor Cuomo will have to revisit new teacher evaluation laws passed as part of the state budget, now that almost one fifth of students have opted out of the tests.
 
New York State United Teacher’s President Karen Magee says the boycott of the third through eighth grade English tests by around 20% of New York’s students will undermine the new teacher evaluation system that relies more heavily on the controversial standardized tests.  
 

The New York State Legislature returns for the second half of the legislative session, once again under a cloud of corruption, and with numerous unsettled issues.

The session begins Tuesday, after the spring break, and this time it’s the leader of the Senate who is the focus of a federal corruption probe. State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos confirmed that he’s the target of an investigation, after the New York Times reported that US Attorney Preet Bharara has  convened a grand jury, that is looking into some of the Senator’s’ business dealings, as well as those of his son.

The recently completed state budget was the first real test of the new Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s leadership, who became the leader of that house in early February.  

By the time the state budget was voted on, Heastie, the 47 year old accountant and former budget analyst from the Bronx, elected to the Assembly in 2000, had  been in his new job for less than two months.

Heastie was elected Speaker on February 3rd after the long time Speaker, Sheldon Silver, resigned. Silver was arrested and charged with running a multi million dollar corruption scheme. 

Governor Cuomo and the state legislature approved some significant changes to the state’s education system and how teachers are evaluated going forward. But, before all that can be implemented, the new system faces a big test, literally, later this month.

The new state budget includes big changes for teacher performance reviews, which will be redesigned by schools and the state education department to rely more heavily on standardized tests.

The new state budget includes an ethics package, that includes more disclosure of the law clients of Senators and Assemblymembers who work for private law firms.

But government reformers say it doesn’t go far enough.

Blair Horner, with the New York Public Interest Research Group, says there are some gaping loopholes in the disclosure law.

State lawmakers have not yet finished the budget, but they are already getting blowback from a provision that would give a tax break to owners of luxury yachts.

The budget includes a sales tax break for purchases of boats worth more than $230,000, as well as for private airplanes. That angers Ron Deutsch, of Fiscal Policy Institute, a union backed think tank that backs Governor Cuomo’s plan to give a property tax break for middle and working class homeowners who pay too much of their income on taxes.

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