The New York State Assembly is poised to retain its role as a check on aggressive education policy changes.
The Assembly’s budget proposal includes $830 million more in school aid than the governor put in his budget in January, but would come with none of the changes to teacher tenure, dismissal, struggling schools policy, or statewide charter school cap Gov. Andrew Cuomo is demanding in exchange for his own funding boost. An outline of the proposal was released Monday evening.
It’s the first budget proposal from new Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx leader who replaced Sheldon Silver earlier this year. Silver had served as speaker for more than decades and was a reliable ally to the teachers union and a foe to groups that sought to weaken the union’s grip on state education policy. But the Assembly budget proposal suggests that there will not be a dramatic shift.
The proposal extends mayoral control in New York City until 2022, the year after a prospective second term for Mayor Bill de Blasio would have ended. Cuomo wants to renew mayoral control but only until 2018, while de Blasio has asked lawmakers to make the school governance structure permanent.
The proposal would increase overall education funding by $1.8 billion, which falls just short of what the state Board of Regents has asked for.
The budget includes a $1 billion increase to the state’s Foundation Aid formula, which skews its benefits toward districts with concentrations of low-income students like New York City. It would also add $80 million to the state’s $340 million universal pre-kindergarten program that launched last year at de Blasio’s urging, $40 million of which would go to New York City.
“This significant investment is part of an overall budget proposal that puts families first and makes a commitment to New York’s children by strengthening our public education system and investing in all aspects that effect a child’s ability to attain independence and academic success,” Heastie said in a statement.
Next up is a budget proposal by the State Senate, which last year introduced a package of charter-school laws in conjunction with Cuomo. The Senate’s leader Dean Skelos, Cuomo, and Heastie will spend the rest of the month negotiating a final spending plan in hopes of reaching an on-time deal by April 1.