Perseverance Pays Off - State Budget Provides $600 Million More
for City Schools
Assemblyman Steven Sanders
As Chairman of the Assembly's Committee on Education, working
closely with Speaker Silver, I successfully fought for and secured
an increase of $440 million in operating aid for public schools
under provisions of the State budget adopted in mid-May.
In New York City, the Assembly's victory in adding this money
should be sufficient to enable Mayor Bloomberg to eliminate his
proposed citywide school cuts of nearly $400 million. Additionally,
this budget will give to the City approximately $200 million more
in State school aid as well as ensure that the City is promptly
repaid over $435 million owed to it in what are referred to as
"prior year claims,” relating to costs or contracts involving
renovation, construction and transportation—usually repaid over
The budget provides a solid foundation for the City to conclude—once
and for all—a contract with the teachers. We came a long way from
Governor Pataki's unacceptable January budget proposal, which
contained damaging school aid cuts for New York City that would
have amounted to a $400 million reduction. Without adequate state
aid, school districts statewide were projecting drastic program
cuts and teacher layoffs.
In addition, the Governor would have delayed previously promised
building aid funding. Instead, the Assembly held its ground and
secured in the adopted State budget education funding at a level
that maintains our commitment to our children's future “dedicating
68 percent of the overall budget increase to education and higher
education. The budget also includes funding for effective programs
that have helped schools reduce class sizes, expand pre-K and
kindergarten programs, improve teacher training, and modernize
We were victorious in blocking the Governor's cuts in education
virtually across the board, fully restoring cuts to so many vital
programs such as Teacher Centers, mentor programs and job-training
programs. The budget continues the Assembly's tradition of improving
New York's schools. In the past eight years, the Assembly has
fought for education aid increases and, year after year, rejected
the Governor's school aid cuts.
Although I am disappointed that the budget doesn't meet all of
the Assembly's goals, for the first time the Governor finally
admitted this year that we clearly need more funding for our schools
than he originally proposed. The fact that the Governor seems
to finally grasp how badly his school aid cuts would have hurt
our children, teachers, and taxpayers could be a good sign. While
we need to do much more in the future, this budget is a good start
in the direction we need to go.#
Sanders is chairman of the NYS Assembly Education Committee. You
can contact him at 201 E. 16th St., New York, NY 10003
(email firstname.lastname@example.org). Tel: (212) 979-9696.
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