New York leaders are hoping to strengthen gun laws.
Saturday, Assemblyman Billy Jones (D-Chateaugay) announced he helped pass the Assembly’s 2018-19 state budget proposal, which includes a significant increase in education aid as well as measures to make schools safer and more inclusive.
“A good education opens the door to limitless possibilities for students, helping them become our state and our country’s future leaders. Our region’s children deserve to be challenged in the classroom and feel safe and accepted,” said Jones.
The Assembly budget proposal allocates $27.1 billion in education funding, a $1.5 billion increase – or 5.9 percent – over last year.
The plan increases Foundation Aid by $1.2 billion. Foundation Aid is particularly crucial for the North Country, as many school districts have a limited tax base and rely heavily on state assistance to ensure they can provide a quality education to all students, Jones noted.
The Assembly budget proposal also includes a multi-year phase-in of Foundation Aid, ensuring all school districts would receive full funding by the 2021-22 school year.In recent weeks, North Country students and residents have been subjected to racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric in and around local schools.
One incident involved a racist message on a social media platform at SUNY Plattsburgh. In another instance, anti-Semitic flyers were posted in Plattsburgh, including near a local middle school.
The Assembly budget proposal includes $7 million to establish the Supportive Schools Grant Program to help districts foster a positive and welcoming learning environment.
It also implements the Dignity for All Students Act, providing the state’s public elementary and secondary school students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying.
“Our schools are diverse places where people from all walks of life come together to receive a quality education and develop lasting friendships and key skills to prepare them for the next chapter of their lives. No student should be afraid to go to school or be made to feel like they don’t belong,” said Jones.
Last week, Jones hosted a roundtable discussion on school safety, bringing together teachers, administrators, counselors, building staff and law enforcement.
One issue raised was the state’s delay in release of state funding to assist schools in their safety upgrades.
Jones is advocating for a quicker release of funding from the Smart Schools Bond Act so local schools can implement security enhancement projects.
As of Feb. 1, there were 243 pending applications for funding related to the Smart Schools Bond Act.
“We cannot afford to drag our feet when it comes to school safety. Students must feel protected every day when they walk in the door and parents should feel safe sending their kids to school,” said Jones.
Sunday, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a statement on gun reform, saying “it’s time for politicians to stand up and create real action and policy change.”
“Earlier this week I stood shoulder to shoulder in solidarity with students who participated in the National Walkout Day as they demanded gun reform. We have heard these students loud and clear and cannot let them down,” said Cuomo.
Cuomo said he’s seeking to make the SAFE Act even stronger.
“This year I have proposed a number of reforms, including preventing individuals with a history of domestic violence from purchasing or owning guns,” said Cuomo.
Sunday, Cuomo proposed New York extend the background check waiting period to up to ten days.