The Assembly’s budget proposal will boost school funding by nearly $1 billion for this school year and includes an extra $100 million for statewide prekindergarten services, according to details released Wednesday morning by Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office.
The statewide funding stream is on top of the Assembly’s proposed personal income tax on New York City residents earning more than $500,000. The surcharge would yield the $530 million in annual revenue that Mayor Bill de Blasio has said he needs to fund pre-K and after-school programs.
The proposal represents part of the budget framework that Silver will bring to the table as negotiations get underway with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate co-leaders Republican Dean Skelos and Independent Democratic Conference head Jeff Klein. The Assembly’s education plan spotlights some of the key differences that will have to be sorted out between now and the end of the month, when lawmakers are expected to sign off on a final budget.
One difference is on state aid. The Assembly’s aid increase of $970 million exceeds Cuomo’s executive budget by more than $400 million. More specifically, much of Cuomo’s increase was targeted at paying back $2.7 billion that was cut from schools through the Gap Elimination Adjustment back in 2010. But he did not include any money for a different funding mechanism, known as Formula Aid, which distributes aid based on student need and how capable a district is of raising its own local revenue. The Assembly’s budget includes $335 million in foundation aid and $367 million toward the GEA, which is about $50 million more than Cuomo’s proposal.
Another is on pre-K funding. Cuomo has said repeatedly he will oppose de Blasio’s tax and Skelos yesterday said the plan was “dead two months ago.” The Assembly’s statewide pre-K proposal matches Cuomo’s proposal, however.
The increase falls short of what more than 80 Democrats in both houses and funding advocates say is needed for cash-strapped school districts. A group of lawmakers and advocates, including Education Chair Catherine Nolan, have said that schools need an extra $1.9 billion to make up for severe cuts made during the economic recession have said that schools need an extra $1.9 billion to make up for severe cuts from the economic recession.
The Assembly’s spending plan for education totals $22.2 billion, a 6.2% increase over last year’s budget. The increase is more in line with what the $1 billion total that the state Board of Regents is asking for.
The plan is the largest increase in education funding in five years and is part of a four-year proposal to increase state aid by $1 billion annually.
“We simply cannot let any child slip through cracks of an under-funded and neglected educational system,” Speaker Silver said in a statement.
Nolan, who had formally asked for more money, said in a statement that the increase nonetheless “addresses the funding challenges that many school districts face across the state, all the while ensuring that each and every child is given the same chance at a bright and successful future.”
The proposal includes some of what Cuomo has prioritized in his executive budget proposal. In fact, it will expand Cuomo’s $2 billion Smart School Bond Act by $317 million, which would be set aside for non-public schools and districts.
Other highlights of the Assembly’s budget, per the Speaker’s office:
— $14.3 million to restore funding for Teacher Resources and Computer Training Centers
— $6 million for aid to nonpublic schools as well as an additional $5 million for prior year claims for the Comprehensive Attendance Policy programs
— $2 million for Library Aid
— $1.5 million for the Consortium for Worker Education.
— $1 million for Bilingual Education Grants
— $1 million for Adult Literacy Education
— $475,000 for the Executive Leadership Institute.