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Governor's budget proposal boosts education, 'protects middle class'

New York Teacher
Budget - Generic graphic

Saying it will be a “challenging year” as the state confronts a $4.4 billion deficit, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 16 called for a 3 percent boost in school aid in his $168 billion executive budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year.

The governor’s announcement comes as New York State faces new financial complications from the Republican tax reform law enacted in December. That law placed sharp limits on state and local tax deductions to help replenish federal government coffers depleted by massive tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

“New York State is pledging to protect the middle class and working families at a time when Washington, D.C., is rewarding corporations and billionaires,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew.

Much of the governor’s proposed $769 million increase — $338 million — would go to foundation aid for school districts. The governor said 70 percent of that funding would target the highest-need districts, including New York City. He also proposed legislation that would require the state’s largest school districts to create school-level funding plans so the state can ensure that its aid flows to the schools with the greatest need.

The State Education Department and state Board of Regents recommended a $1.6 billion increase, down from $2.1 billion the previous year in light of the state’s deficit.

Cuomo’s plan included the following education funding proposals:

Overall, the executive budget would close the state’s deficit by holding most spending flat and raising $1 billion in new taxes and fees.

The governor’s budget proposal is the first volley in what is always a prolonged 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 2018–19 fiscal year.

Mulgrew expressed hope that education funding would remain a priority in the final spending plan.

“We look forward to working with Gov. Cuomo and the Legislature to preserve the progress we have made in education and to keep investing in our public schools,” he said.