CAPITOL — State Sen. Jim Tedisco's plan to establish a commemorative license plate that would help fund school safety improvements passed the state Senate on Monday even as Democrats who voted for it criticized it as doing too little to prevent gun violence.
The bill passed the Senate with wide approval — 56 to 4 — but some Democrats who voted for the bill also referred to it as the "stupid license plate bill" as they cast votes in favor of it. Tedisco defended the bill as giving schools a chance to upgrade their safety, including expanding the use of security cameras, metal detectors, mental health counseling and school resource officers.
Revenue from the "Guardians for Schools" license plate would be devoted to school security upgrades. The vote came as part of a series of bills passed by the Republican-controlled state Senate on Monday night. Other bills approved, with some Democratic votes, would allow districts to employ former police officers as school resource officers, authorizing the former police to carry weapons in schools.
Pointing to the armed guards at the state Capitol, Tedisco asked his Democratic colleagues why that level of protection is good for them but not for schools.
"But wait it's not good enough to give [armed guards] to the kids, but it's good enough to give them to you?" Tedisco said during floor debate of the legislation.
Democrats argued Tedicso's proposal, along with other Republican bills approved by the Senate on Monday, were designed to make small safety improvments without addressing larger issues of gun violence in and out of shools.
"Senator Tedisco's answer to the massacres happening throughout our country is a license plate, a commemorative license plate," said state Sen. Michael Gianaris, a Democrat who represents parts of Queens.
The Senate approved bills that would make certain safey upgrade eligible for state aid, establish a state school resource officer program and allow former police officers, sherrif's deputies and state troopers to serve as armed resource officers in schools. But Senate Republicans turned back an effort by Democrats to prohibit teachers in New York from carrying weapons on schools grounds and to introduce more restrictive gun laws into Monday's debate.