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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Wed, Jan 7, 2004

CFE's Response to the Governor's 11th Annual State of the State Address

CFE Calls on the Governor to Make Good on His Word and Deliver our Children the Education They Deserve This Year

In his 11th annual State of the State address today, Governor Pataki called on the legislature to resolve the CFE school funding case this year, and provide schools in need the resources their children require to have their opportunity for a sound basic education. “

“CFE agrees with the governor: the time is now to right this historic wrong. Albany failed to meet the court mandate; they defied the constitution and the needs of our kids, and the futures of hundreds of thousands of New York’s children hang in the balance” said CFE Executive Director and Counsel Michael A. Rebell. “It’s simply not enough for Governor Pataki and legislators to continue talking about the need for reform. They must finally do their jobs, implement reform, and see to it that another generation of children is not cheated by an unfair funding system that prevents them from having a fair shake in the classroom and in life.”

Indeed, the pledge for reform is a familiar one for Governor Pataki. Last year, during his 2004 state-of-the-state address, he called the CFE ruling “an historic chance to improve our schools” and included among his guiding principles to meet the challenge, the development of a “new funding formula that is fair, sustainable, and understandable” and the ensuring of “a multi-year commitment of resources.” But the governor and the legislature defaulted on the order from the state’s highest court to overhaul the state’s school funding system and failed to enact any reforms by the July 2004 deadline. In response, a panel of judicial referees was appointed by the court to make recommendations about how to finally bring the school funding system into constitutional compliance. In their November 30 final report, the distinguished panel concluded that the State should provide an additional $5.63 billion for operating aid over four years and $9.2 billion for facilities to provide their students the resources the New York State Constitution guarantees them

While lawyers for the State have since dismissed the panel’s recommendations as too high and argued that it would be "antithetical to the notion of separation of powers" for the court to order the legislature to budget a specified amount for education, the panel clearly stated that ordering the State to uphold the constitution would not be beyond its purview. “To the contrary,” wrote the panel, “it would be engaging in the most quintessential of judicial functions—protecting the constitutional rights of the citizenry,"

CFE strongly maintains that any reforms to the formula that affect New York City— which educates 38 percent of the state's children—would necessarily have a statewide impact. Although the court does not have the authority to suggest reforms for other districts around the state, CFE intends to transform the panel’s recommendations and the court order into a statewide reform bill that will be introduced in the 2005 legislative session.

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 >