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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

NYS Governor Cuomo Vetoes Special Ed Placement Bill


Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has vetoed a bill that may have increased the number of special education students eligible for private school placement.
The bill called for school officials to consider “home environment and family background,” such as religion, when approving taxpayer-funded tuition for private schools. But the governor said the bill “unfairly places the burden on taxpayers to support the provision of a private education.”
Advocates for the bill, including religious organizations, argued that the bill would help provide more “appropriate” placements for children with special needs and streamline reimbursement to families.
Lawmakers from both chambers passed the legislation in June. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg who opposed the measure, praised the governor for blocking the bill’s passage.
“The proposed legislation would have imposed another unfunded mandate on taxpayers across New York. With his veto, Governor Cuomo has once again shown his commitment to fiscal responsibility and to protecting both the City and State from unsustainable financial burdens,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a statement.
The Wall Street Journal reports the governor said in his veto message “that the bill ran contrary to his commitment to reducing the expensive mandates Albany places on local governments. School districts, which lobbied strongly against the bill, have been dealing with an increase in the number of students who win the right to go to private schools on the taxpayer’s dime.”
Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein of Brooklyn said she was disappointed by the veto, claiming there was “a lot of misunderstanding” about the bill’s impact.
“For the sake of clarity, it should be known that this measure is all about putting children first. It is about removing barriers to education for one of our most vulnerable populations, children with special needs,” she said. “It is about giving these children an equal opportunity to succeed.”
Patricia Willens is an editor at WNYC. Follow her on Twitter @pwillens

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