Democratic senators ratcheted up pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a letter today, asking him to restore state funds in New York City and increase school aid statewide.
The letter was penned by Brooklyn Senator Kevin Parker, who recruited 19 other senators (and counting) to sign on. It asks Cuomo to increase basic aid for schools by $350 million and give more of that money to poorer districts.
Democrats also want Cuomo to restore up to $260 million in lost schools funds to New York City and other districts that did not meet a mandated Jan, 17 deadline to submit teacher evaluation plans. Parker doesn’t have the support of Senate Co-President Jeff Klein, a Democrat from the Bronx, and other members from Klein’s breakaway caucus.
But Parker said it doesn’t need to be a struggle during negotiations.
“He could change this with literally a wave of his pinky,” Parker said.
The push from Senate Democrats comes as the Assembly submitted a budget proposal that matches up well with their demands. It includes an increase of $834 million in formula aid for this school year, $334 more than what is proposed in Cuomo’s budget.
“A balanced budget cannot come at the expense of our most important investment, the education of New York’s children,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said in a statement.
The Assembly’s budget also restores school aid to New York City and other districts that did not meet a mandated Jan. 17 deadline to submit teacher evaluation plans.
Additional education proposals in the Assembly’s budget:
— $60 million of Cuomo’s performance grants toward general schools funding.
— $25 million for additional half-day pre-Kindergarten slots. Cuomo’s budget proposes $25 million for full-day pre-K seats through competitive grants, and would be targeted toward poor districts.
— $16.8 million for Summer Programs for the Blind and the Deaf.
— $10.22 million for Teacher Centers
— $4 million for Aid to Non-public schools for comprehensive attendance policy programs.
— $3 million for Afterschool Transportation, which was eliminated from Cuomo’s budget.
— $1.5 million for the administration of all high school equivalency diploma exams.
— $1 million for Adult Literacy Education
— $172,000 for the Talking Book and Braille Library Program
The Governor, the Assembly, and the Senate, jointly controlled Republicans and an Independent caucus, all begin the negotiating process with different priorities but they have submit a balanced budget by the end of the month. A lot of jockeying will happen between now and then.
Parker’s letter is below: