Oberacker, GOP senators propose legislation

Jan. 29—State Sen. Peter Oberacker, R-Schenevus, announced Monday he had joined with members of the Senate Republican Conference to unveil a legislative package aimed at reversing cuts to schools that Gov. Kathy Hochul included in her budget proposal.

"Students statewide should have access to a quality education that prepares them for future success — regardless of where they live," Oberacker said in a media release. "The governor's budget is gutting many of the schools I represent and the elimination of the 'hold harmless' provision will be devastating for districts that are already struggling. We need to reduce state mandates that are burdensome and unnecessary and ensure that our schools — all of our schools — are receiving their fair share of state aid."

The $233 billion budget "siphons state aid away from local schools while dedicating $2.4 billion in taxpayer dollars earmarked for migrants, bringing the total to $4.3 billion over the last two years," the release said.

The legislative package includes proposals "that will keep our students safe and improve educational outcomes in school throughout the state," the release said. They include:

—Reversing changes in the education formula proposed in the Executive Budget that will take resources away from our local schools;

—Closing the pandemic learning loss gap by ensuring unspent Federal emergency relief aid supports academic recovery programs, expanding state grant funding, creating an office in the State Education Department to track outcomes of such programs and focusing on future aid increases for early education to ensure students are provided a solid foundation for future academic challenges;

—Prohibiting the housing of migrants in K-12 schools or on school grounds throughout the state; and

—Committing greater resources for school building security by creating a school resource officer program to permit the employment of retired law enforcement officers and provide grants to school districts and non-public schools.

"From the moment the governor laid out her budget proposal I have heard from a number of concerned school superintendents, teachers, and parents," Oberacker said. "By cutting school aid, property taxes will be going up in areas that can least afford to take the hit and more people will be packing up and leaving our state. I will be pressing for changes to ensure our schools and our students are not shortchanged."