Albany, NY - Today, the State Legislature’s
fiscal committees are holding their annual hearing on the Governor’s proposed
budget for education. Robert Lowry, the Council’s Deputy Director for Advocacy,
Research, and Communications will be testifying.
Here is the written testimony that we submitted in advance of the hearing.
The testimony emphasizes these
- The 7.1% statewide increase in combined state and federal funding shown on aid runs is not representative of what most districts would experience. Half the state’s districts would receive increases of 2.1% or less, including nearly one-quarter that would suffer reductions in funding, notwithstanding the $3.8 billion in federal stimulus aid allocated on the runs. Over 70% of districts would have the federal allocations entirely offset by cuts in state support.
- The budget indicates that the $1.3 billion cut imposed against STAR property tax relief reimbursements to school districts is intended to be recurring. This raises the question, what is expected to happen to STAR once federal aid is gone.
- The proposal to consolidate 11 aid categories into “Services Aid” is alarming for multiple reasons. It would cut funding by nearly $700 million from what districts would receive under current law. The cuts are generally regressive, taking more per pupil from poorer districts. The proposal would obliterate one remaining strand of predictability in school revenues—there would be no way for districts forecast their Services Aid for the future.
- We support the Regents legislative proposal to assure school districts are reimbursed through Transportation Aid for exceptional costs they incurred last year and this year while school buildings have been closed. We also point out that this issue can overstate projected increases in total aid for 2021-22—if their estimated 2020-21 Transportation Aid is depressed.
- We need to learn from the past, recognizing that the hardest budget choices have come when federal aid ends. So we recognize the need to raise state revenues and to secure federal fiscal relief for our state government.