Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday said expanding charter schools in the state is necessary to give parents options about their children's education after vehement pushback from Democratic lawmakers and labor unions against the governor's budget proposal.
At a storm briefing at the state Department of Transportation building in Latham, the governor said the provision to create 85 new charter schools and lift New York City's regional cap on them should be in the state's next spending plan due April 1.
"I think it makes sense to give parents choice," Hochul said to reporters. "...I'm just responding to parents who want choice, especially in Black and brown communities who are saying 'Can we just have a choice?' And it's hard to say no to those individuals who want to be able to have a decisions."
Hochul held the briefing ahead of the nor'easter expected Monday night through early Wednesday. A state of emergency takes effect at 8 p.m.
Tuesday's scheduled legislative session is canceled due to the impending storm and as senators and assemblymembers prepare to release their one-house budgets this week.
Hochul argued expanding charter schools would not take money from public school districts, touting her increased investments in education.
She later added: "I'm not in a position to tell them that we will take that choice away. ...I have parents, especially in high-needs areas, where they want an option for their children. I feel having their voices on our side is important, and that's what I'm fighting for."
Hochul doesn't want the 2023-24 budget to be passed late, but noted last year's spending plan was completed nine days past the deadline because of disagreements between legislative leaders about changes made to the state's bail laws. The law was ultimately changed to expand when bail is set for a person with prior offenses and for additional gun charges.
"I said 'I'm not leaving Albany until I get substantial changes to the bail law to make sure that serious crimes that were left out are now covered and that we have discretion for judges,'" Hochul recalled.
She has again proposed changes to the bail law to be included in the budget, aiming to end the "least restrictive" standard requirement she has said would end confusion for judges setting bail for serious charges and repeat offenders.
"I would like an on-time budget — I'm not planning on one that's not," she continued. "But I also know that I'm here to do the work of the people of New York State and they expect me to not leave town until the job's done."
Last week's departure of the state's former acting Budget Director Sandra Beattie will not impact the state's ability to have a timely budget, Hochul said.
"I have a very experienced budget director, that has no effect on it," the governor concluded.