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Campaign for Fiscal Equity
 

Mon, Jan 21, 2008

Gov. Spitzer Scales Back on School Cash

By Erin Einhorn, NY Daily News

Gov. Spitzer is scaling back on his bold promise to flood city schools with badly needed cash.
When the governor unveils his state budget plan Tuesday, it will include less than was expected for New York City schools.

How much less is unclear, but advocates estimate it's $100 million shy of what Spitzer promised with fanfare a year ago -money that might have been used to hire more than 1,000 teachers.

"If you can't hire those teachers, that means class sizes are going to be larger and [schools] are not going to be able to implement the programs they need," said Geri Palast, director of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which 14 years ago launched a legal battle to prove the state was shortchanging city schools.

Spitzer is not seeking to cut school funds. His proposed $21billion education budget would represent a record $1.4 billion increase over this year, state Budget Director Laura Anglin said. Of this, New York City would get $8.2 billion compared with $7.6 billion this fiscal year.
But that's still short of what was expected, and not on pace to meet a four-year plan to add more than $3 billion by 2010, advocates said.

The gap, which Spitzer says he'll remedy in future years, is a result of an ongoing state deficit and complications related to the formula used to divvy up dollars.

"We understand that there is an economic downturn," Palast said. "But the kids of New York State have waited 14 years. ... They should be immunized from shifts in the economy."
The problem is high city real estate revenues in 2005 that made the city look wealthier in a formula that balances school need with community wealth.

If the formula had been applied, New York would have gotten an increase of only $225 million - instead of an expected $530 million boost.

Spitzer tweaked the formula to bump that number up to $335million. He also has made an additional $180 million available in grants, Anglin said. But those grants are actually part of a fund used to reimburse the city for school construction projects.

The governor will ask the Legislature to essentially freeze construction reimbursements for 18 months so that the money can be used for school expenses next year - and the construction dollars will be reimbursed a year later.

"We're not claiming there's not a reduction from what was anticipated," Anglin said. "New York City is going to see a modest reduction, but the fact is that New York City would have seen a dramatic reduction under present law, and we're trying to rectify that here in a tough fiscal situation."

Legislators asked about the schools budget yesterday said it would be scrutinized.
"There's always places to cut, but it has to be done intelligently and not at a cost to the children of the City of New York," said state Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn).

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) said the Assembly has a "commitment to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. ... We will try to keep everything we promised."

Source


Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >