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Statement on Governor Cuomo's Executive Budget Proposal

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Published: 1/23/2013 11:29:00 AM

We are encouraged that Governor Cuomo’s executive budget proposes additional, much-needed school aid above the (unconstitutional) cap that purportedly limits the growth in state aid each year to the percentage increase in personal income growth the previous year. The governor is proposing $278 million more in state aid than this year's cap would allow. Most of this addition is directed to funding to help districts cope with the growth of fixed costs, including pension contributions, which are cutting into essential resources and services for students. We applaud his recommendation to also provide support for important initiatives to expand access to pre-kindergarten for students from high-needs districts, to extended learning time, and to community schools, although the amounts provided are meager and inadequate. The governor is again proposing that $50 million of money that otherwise would go to foundation aid should be allocated for vaguely defined management and efficiency competitive grants that have proved to be a failed program over the past two years. That money clearly should be reallocated for gap elimination or additional pre-K funding.

Despite the improvements in state aid that the governor is proposing, unfortunately, he continues the state’s irresponsible practice of determining school aid based on availability of funds and political calculus rather than on students’ needs and constitutional rights. The state must tackle the big job of determining the specific resources and services necessary to ensure all students the opportunity for a sound basic education, assess the actual cost of providing them cost-effectively in each school, and create a responsible plan for putting the resources in place. The opportunity for a sound basic education is too important to students’ futures to do less.
 
Michael A. Rebell, Executive Director  
 
January 22, 2013