92 Legislators Reject Governor Cuomo’s plan to Repeal Foundation Aid Formula, Demand Plan to Fully Fund $4.3 Billion Owed
92 Legislators Join Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Education Chair Cathy Nolan, Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus Chair Nick Perry, Senator Kevin Parker in Rejecting Governor Cuomo’s plan to Repeal Foundation Aid Formula and Demanding Plan to Fully Fund $4.3 Billion in Foundation Aid Owed
ALBANY (March 2, 2017) – Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Assembly Member Cathy Nolan, Chair of the New York State Assembly Education Committee, Senator Kevin Parker, and Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus Chair Nick Perry released letters to the Governor signed by 92 legislators in both houses rejecting Governor Cuomo’s proposal to repeal the Foundation Aid formula and calling for a full phase-in of Foundation Aid and compliance with the Campaign for Fiscal Equity court rulings.
Dozens of lawmakers gathered outside the Senate Lobby in the New York State Capitol on Thursday for the announcement, alongside Senate Democratic Leader Stewart-Cousins, Chairwoman Nolan, Senator Parker and Assemblyman Perry. They were accompanied by the Alliance for Quality Education, Citizen Action of New York, and the League of Women Voters of New York State.
The letters to the Governor rejected his plan to eliminate the Foundation Aid formula and called for the him to support a budget that complies with the State’s constitutional obligations by fully funding the Foundation Aid formula in order to address the severe educational inequities that exist in New York State.
The Foundation Aid formula was enacted in response to the 2006 Campaign for Fiscal Equity Court of Appeals decision, which found that the state was violating students’ constitutional right to a “sound basic education.”
However, in the decade since the CFE lawsuit, the Foundation Aid formula has been perpetually underfunded by New York State, and Governor Cuomo’s 2017 executive budget proposal repeals the Foundation Aid formula completely. According to New York State Board of Regents, New York State public schools are owed $4.3 billion in Foundation Aid, nearly two-thirds of which is owed to Black, Brown and low-income students.
Senate Democratic Leader Stewart-Cousins said, “State government has a responsibility to invest in our kids and that means fully-funding our schools. The Senate Democrats have led the fight to ensure public schools receive the funding they need to give our students the education they deserve. We understand that education is the great equalizer and that is why we are going to keep up our campaign to ensure all New York students have access to a world-class education.”
“We need to renew our commitment to fully phasing in the Foundation Aid formula, not break it,” said Assembly Education Chair Catherine Nolan. “Ten years since the Campaign for Fiscal Equity was settled, an unacceptable level of inequity remains among our state’s school districts. The Foundation Aid formula is the fairest and most inclusive method of ensuring our children get the best education we can give them.”
“Educational inequity has denied opportunities to a generation of students in our state, especially in African-American, Latino and immigrant communities,” said Assembly Member and Chair of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus Nick Perry. “The Foundation Aid formula lifts up resource-poor communities and students who live in poverty. It’s time we adequately fund all our public schools by providing the full amount of resources required to ensure the optimum educational environment for high performance and achievement. Our state’s future depends on this.”
“We as lawmakers have a responsibility to the students in our state to provide a ‘sound, basic education,’” said State Senator Kevin Parker, “Although more than a decade has passed since the Campaign for Fiscal Equity in which both the promise of educational fairness and the court order have not been fulfilled. We need to recommit to our most valuable communities across New York State by implementing the Foundation Aid formula and supporting our high need schools.”
“It is long overdue for New York State to end the systemic racism that has shaped our public school system,” said Jasmine Gripper, Legislative Director of the Alliance for Quality Education. “The Foundation Aid formula is the fairest school aid distribution formula we have, and we need to fund it, not repeal it. We applaud the lawmakers that stand by our state’s neediest students and work toward ending inequity in New York State’s schools.”
“New York’s highest court said several years ago that to be a responsible citizen every child is constitutionally guaranteed a ‘sound basic education.’ The Governor has seriously underfunded foundation aid and we applaud Assemblywoman Nolan and her colleagues for their commitment to increase that aid and assure that students in the neediest districts will have the opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Barbara Bartoletti, Legislative Director League of Women Voters of New York State.
“In this historically challenging time, New York State needs to step forward and provide the progressive leadership our families and communities need. But Governor Cuomo’s proposal to repeal the Foundation Aid formula and eliminate $4.3 billion that is owed to our students does exactly the opposite. Our children need smaller class sizes, more student supports and services, and courses that prepare them for college and the workplace. Students need both houses of the Legislature to commit to a plan to fully fund Foundation Aid,” said Jess Wisneski, Legislative and Campaigns Director, Citizen Action of New York.