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View Points 2001 Banner

August, 2001  

From the New York State Assembly  Black Square  Sheldon Silver, Speaker
Steven Sanders, Chair, Education Committee

Bare bones budget spotlights shortcomings of the Governorís school aid proposal

Fight to strengthen schools not over. Governor must negotiate supplemental budget that helps schools raise academic standards.

The Governorís refusal to hammer out a budget has left our schools in a state of crisis and uncertainty. Without a negotiated budget in place, school districts must make shaky estimates of how much state aid they will receive for the approaching school year. Thatís no way to provide our children with a quality education or help them meet the Regentsí higher academic standards.

The Governor has insisted on a budget plan that cuts education aid and health care ĖĖ and fails to address the stateís troubled economy. He refuses to admit that we have over $4 billion of surplus and reserves available to meet New Yorkís needs ĖĖ and still be protected against a severe economic downturn.

Thatís why the Legislature was forced to take the extraordinary step of passing a bare bones budget. This budget brings stability to our state by eliminating the need for endless budget extenders and guarding against disastrous vetoes by the Governor.

And as schools prepare to open their doors to millions of children this fall, now they will have the assurance that they will have at least a minimum amount of state aid to get by.

Assembly continues push for groundbreaking 2-year school aid plan

Now that New York State has a bare bones budget in place, we can turn our attention to our goal of strengthening our schools with initiatives contained in the Assemblyís budget resolution passed in March. We will continue to press the Governor to work out a supplemental budget with the Legislature that contains the Assemblyís landmark 2-year plan to ensure schools have the resources they need and the ability to plan for the future.

The Assemblyís budget resolution restores the Governorís $1.1 billion cut in education aid by increasing state dollars to our schools by $1.7 billion for each of the next two school years, for a total increase of $3.4 billion. The Assembly plan:
  • sets up a two-year school aid plan, giving schools the financial information they need to plan timely budgets and prepare programs that meet high standards;

  • addresses the Supreme Court ruling that struck down New Yorkís school aid formula as unconstitutional;

  • reaffirms our commitment to protect property taxpayers from higher tax bills by guarding against education cuts that could force school districts to raise property taxes;

  • consolidates six separate funding categories into a core operating aid formula ó giving school districts room to use state funding to meet their individual needs;

  • allocates $91 million for Instructional Computer Technology Aid, including a $50 million grant program for education technology;

  • restores $31 million in cuts to BOCES proposed by the Governor; and

  • rejects most of the Governorís plan to change the building aid formula, which could leave school districts with half-finished building projects and waste already invested taxpayer dollars.
Keeping our commitment to fully fund LADDER

Our plan also fully supports the Assemblyís landmark LADDER program which, since its implementation in 1998, has helped schools meet higher standards, reduce class size, update computer technology, recruit and train highly-skilled teachers, and ensure every child has access to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. The continued success of LADDER is crucial if the next generation is to be competitive in the 21st century economy.

The Governor originally agreed to a four-year phase-in of the LADDER program, but has repeatedly tried to back away from this commitment. This year is no different, with the Governorís proposal cutting $660 million from LADDER.

Building on the Assemblyís long-standing efforts to improve education

The Governorís policies have ignored the need to make a significant investment in our childrenís education. In fact, the Governorís budget each year has proposed cutting education aid from what our schools are due under current law.

The Assembly has always made public education a top priority. Last year, the Assembly defeated the Governorís $885 million school aid cut and dramatically increased education aid by over $1 billion.

We urge the Governor to come forward to work out a supplemental budget agreement with the Legislature that maintains a strong commitment to quality education, provides students with the tools they need to succeed, and holds the line on property taxes.

Itís up to the Governor.

Tell Governor Pataki to
negotiate a supplemental
budget that gives our children
the education they deserve.


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