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Cuomo calls for $1B funding hike, with more for poorest schools

Andrew CuomoGovernor Andrew Cuomo In his first executive budget proposal since Democrats took control of the state Senate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called for a $1 billion increase in education spending, for a total of $27.7 billion.

Cuomo proposed increasing overall foundation aid, a formula that sends extra dollars to high-needs districts, by $338 million, the same increase as in last year’s final budget. However, his proposal falls short of the $2.2 billion in additional education funding sought by the union and other public school advocates.

Under the executive budget proposal, New York City would get an increase of $282 million in aid, a 2.6 percent increase over last year. The budget also requires school districts to earmark a significant portion of their foundation aid increase for schools with the greatest needs.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew said he appreciated the governor’s attention to the poorest schools. “Poor children, who have been shortchanged for years by the state formula, need to be first in line as the state distributes education funds,” Mulgrew said. “We look forward to advocating for more money in the final budget for New York City schools.”

The governor’s proposed budget also includes a $50 million increase statewide for community schools, $1.5 million for enhanced mental health supports for schools and a $3 million pilot program to increase the use of alternative approaches to discipline to improve school climate.

In addition, Cuomo called for extending mayoral control of city schools for three more years and called for protecting union members’ personal information from organizations seeking to undermine unions following the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling in June 2018.

The governor set an aggressive policy agenda overall, embracing proposals to strengthen women’s rights, enhance voting rights, ensure workers’ rights and protect the environment. “In many ways, I feel the state is now liberated with the Senate Democratic caucus and we can get these things done,” Cuomo said.

The governor’s budget proposal is the opening volley in what is always a back-and-forth between the governor and state lawmakers each budget season. The state Legislature is required to pass a budget by April 1, the start of the 2019–20 state fiscal year.

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