State Budget – Good and Bad News for Schools

The Alliance for Quality Education Released a statement on the new State Budget…  Billy Easton is Executive Director; “The enacted budget contains a mix of good and bad news for public school students across New York State. The budget provides a $1.1 billion increase in aid to public schools – at least $400 million more than proposed by Governor Cuomo. ($100 million of the Governor’s proposed $800 million increase was for pre-Kindergarten programs). In an unprecedented step, this is a significantly larger increase than the conference committee’s table targets that were set by the Governor and the legislative leaders in the past ten days. The budget also includes $340 million for full-day pre-K, more than tripling Governor Cuomo’s budget proposal. ”

School Aid

“We applaud the legislature, particularly Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Assembly Education Chair Cathy Nolan, for adding $400 million to the Governor’s budget proposal. Through the tough negotiating stance of the Assembly, school aid increased by $160 million in just the past few days. This is a critical victory for public students across the state and will save important educational programs that would have been cut had Governor Cuomo’s proposal been allowed to stand.”

“However, this budget may prove to be inadequate to prevent yet another round of classroom cuts. Had our public schools been a priority for Governor Cuomo our school children would have fared better. Governor Cuomo used his political capital to cut taxes for the wealthy and provide extra funding and special treatment for charter schools to the neglect of our public school students.”

“We set out to win $1.9 billion in school aid and pre-K funding and ended up with more than $1.4 billion—including $1.1 billion for school aid. This greatly exceeded the expectations of Albany insiders. Without the relentless efforts of parents, students, teachers, school district leaders and communities this never would have been possible. As New York’s elected officials prepare to face the voters we will undertake a concerted effort to ensure that all New Yorkers are well-informed of the needs of public school students.”

Pre-K

“Mayor de Blasio’s success on pre-K outdid the predictions of the pundits and soothsayers. The $300 million for full-day pre-K in New York City is a major victory. The $40 million for the rest of the state is an important step but we expected more. We are concerned that the program as designed by the Governor may be overly complex and prove cumbersome to implement but we will withhold judgment until the Education Commissioner sets the final rules.”

Charter Schools

“The Governor has claimed to be the ‘student’s lobbyist’ for years, but never delivered. At last he found a lobbying client in the privately-run charter schools. Their corporate backers spent more than $5 million on attack ads and lobbying and the Governor championed their cause. He increased public funding for charter schools. He gave charter school operators in New York City rights that public schools do not have when it comes to controlling classroom space in public school buildings. It was pay to play politics in the extreme, even by Albany standards.”

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