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New York City
August 2001

How would you go about getting a fair share of the state education budget for NYC?

HB: The Court ruling will help. The opinion is likely to be upheld in one form or another. The Governor is appealing, and the appeals will take a couple of years. In the meantime he hopes to get reelected, and then some agreement will be reached.

MB: I would continue supporting the legal process to get NYC’s fair share of state funds per the court decision in favor of the lawsuit filed by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity. And I would strongly lobby the Governor and state legislature to bring the school funding formula in balance.

FF: I’ve already played a leadership role in getting a fair share for our City by being a party to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit. I did so because the state robbed 1.1 million school children—overwhelmingly black and Latino, working class and poor—and I take this personally. If I were Mayor, I would’ve pitched a tent up in Albany after CFE decision and not left until we got a guarantee that there would be suitable resolution. I would be screaming at Governor Pataki’s STAR program, which is essentially a student aid program that benefits the state’s wealthiest districts, or about the NY State lotto, which also is disproportionately funded by NYC residents, yet we do not see an equivalent increase in our state aid. As Mayor, I will not allot critical funds to unnecessary endeavors like building as many sta-
diums as possible. Instead, I will focus on getting the resources to the classroom.

MG: The Court has said that the State must do more. I will be a vocal advocate in holding the State accountable. The City must also change its priorities to focus on educating children. The City must spend a greater proportion of its capital funds on schools. I’ll use $250 million in funds now allocated for renovating jail beds to relieve overcrowding in schools. Too often, policy makers think that the only two choices in dealing with shortfalls or financing new expenditures are revenue increases or across-the-board cuts. I will seek a third way—it’s called management. I support new funding for school construction to reduce class size and will ensure that the BoE maximizes the use of existing space through administrative solutions.

AH: The CFE has already won the first, and major round, with the Court decision that says that NYC has been cheated, in raw numbers, by $4 billion since 1987. We will win because the decision is based on the State constitution. In addition, and this may not be the best politics, I have always said that if we need it, as a last resort we should restore the income tax surcharge to support education. This was initiated to pay for more cops, and it worked. This is in the context of a very substantial federal income tax cut.

PV: The City is paying the way for the State and our children are paying the price. As Mayor, I will relentlessly lobby Albany for funding that is proportionate to the number of students we educate. As Speaker of the City Council, I have earmarked billions of dollars to reduce class size, replace dangerous coal-burning furnaces, update textbooks, renovate crumbling schools and install computers in every classroom. Now, I have the plan to further address such failures and turn our schools around: it’s a program called Smart Kids/Smart City. My plan will dedicate NYC’s residential property taxes exclusively to our instruction in our schools. My plan does not require raising taxes or cutting services—it means that the over $4 billion already paid each year in residential property taxes will be used only for public education. This will increase the City’s contribution to instructional services and support in our schools by $500 million dollars a year. It means that funds from Albany, earmarked for education will be used only for education.

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