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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Wed, Oct 21, 2009

88% of Governor's Proposed Education Cuts Would Hit Poor & Middle Class Districts

Proposed Cuts on Top of Broken Promise of Fair and Full School Funding

(Albany) In testimony before the Assembly Ways & Means Committee hearing on Governor Paterson's proposed mid-year budget cuts today, the Alliance for Quality Education presented an analysis showing that 88% of proposed cuts in school aid would hit poor and middle class school districts. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity supports this analysis and will testify on Monday before the Senate Finance Committee. Governor Paterson has asserted that the poorest districts are protected under his plan.

"Earlier this year the Governor and the legislature failed to keep the promise to deliver the funding our courts ordered to ensure every child's constitutional right to a quality education. The governor has proposed that the legislature cut $686 million from schools on top of the broken promise." said Billy Easton, Executive Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “The only responsible action is for the legislature to stand by our school children and say no to these cuts."

‚ÄúChronic underfunding of schools, particularly those with the greatest needs, is an unacceptable assault on the education of our children and their constitutional rights. The real victims are the struggling students already lagging behind who can never make up this year and whose lives and opportunities will suffer. The proposed mid-year cut of $686 million compounds the program reductions and teacher lay-offs that occurred due to the cut in the enacted budget. The legislature must reject these proposals, abide by the court and keep the promise to adequately fund quality education in this state,‚ÄĚ said Geri D. Palast, Executive Director, Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

Out of the $686 million in proposed cuts $350 million are to high need districts including: $223 million to New York City, $30 million to the Big 4 cities (Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Yonkers), $56 million are to high need small cities and suburbs, and $41 million are to high need rural districts. Another $252 million are to average need districts. AQE and CFE are opposing cuts to any schools regardless of the distribution of these cuts.

In the Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) lawsuit, the state's highest court the New York State Court of Appeals ruled that the state was failing its constitutional obligation to provide the funding necessary to ensure every child has access to a quality education. Though the CFE case only applied to New York City, the legislature and the governor enacted a statewide CFE settlement at the urging of both AQE and CFE. This settlement, enacted in 2007, committed the state to increase basic classroom operating aid, also called foundation aid, by $5.5 billion over four years. This settlement followed 14 years of delays and inaction. After two years of payments the state failed to meet its obligations in the 2009 budget. The proposed cuts now before the legislature are in addition to the failure to fulfill the CFE commitments.

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 >