State Legislators and AQE Criticize Governor Cuomo’s Education Budget for Failure to Fully Fund Foundation Aid

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 15, 2019) — Public education advocacy organization the Alliance for Quality Education was joined by several state legislators in criticizing Governor Cuomo’s proposed education budget for being totally inadequate due to the lack of commitment to fully fund Foundation Aid.

The Governor’s budget includes a minuscule $338 million proposed increase in Foundation Aid and $956 million in school aid, falling far short of the Board of Regents’ call for a $2.2 billion increase in school aid, which included a $1.66 billion increase in Foundation Aid. Under current state law, schools statewide are owed $4.1 billion in Foundation Aid which the Regents, AQE and other advocates are calling to be phased in over three years.

“It’s great to finally hear about equitable funding of public education from Governor Cuomo, but his paltry $338 million in Foundation Aid is an insult to our children. Whatever plan he may craft to address funding disparities within districts does not address the now $4 billion that has been owed to struggling schools statewide for decades as a result of the state’s failure to uphold its legal obligation. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity will not be erased,” said Senator Robert Jackson, District 31.

“The path to equity in education is through fully funding the Foundation Aid formula. Schools statewide are owed $4.1 billion from the state and anything less equates to educational racism,” said Jasmine Gripper, Legislative Director, Alliance for Quality Education. “Throughout his tenure Governor Cuomo has blamed everyone else for his failure to address educational equity. He blamed teachers, he blamed administrators and the schools districts. But the reality is Governor Cuomo’s refusal to adequately fund the Foundation Aid formula is the biggest hindrance to achieving equity for New York’s public schools.”

“I went to an underfunded school and it is still underfunded, as are the schools across my Assembly District. In my community the Campaign for Fiscal Equity is not a ghost from the past, educational equity has been with us forever and it is here today. The Foundation Aid we are being denied means that history will repeat itself with many Black and Brown children being denied a sound, basic education. That cannot be allowed to happen,” said Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, District 55.

“This is supposed to be the year of progress in New York and our students need after school programs, school counselors, social workers, and 21st Century technology. We need to heavily invest in our public schools if we are going to meet these goals and provide every student the education they deserve,” said State Senator Gustavo Rivera, Chairman of the Senate Health Committee. “Sadly, this proposed budget does not seem to do that. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and the Assembly to negotiate a budget that will adequately set up all schools and students in New York for success,” said Senator Gustavo Rivera, District 33.

“Governor Cuomo must provide the full $4 billion our children and public schools are owed. It is a fact, and a court order. The Governor’s budget proposal falls short and I will continue to do whatever it takes to get our public schools the funding they need and to bring educational equity to New York,” said Senator Jessica Ramos, District 13.

“I didn’t attend today’s budget briefing by the Governor because I’m boycotting B.S. The devil is in the details. He refuses to pay the $4.2 billion owed to Black and Brown and poor schools across the state. He’s proposing an unconscionable and unacceptable $338 million in Foundation Aid. The New York State Board of Regents says we need a $2.2 billion increase to pay the bills and make a downpayment on CFE and he’s only proposing an increase of $956 million. The Governor continues to project a progressive front, when he’s fiscally conservative and proposes a budget that harms poor Black and Brown families in this State. The New York State total budget is over $168 billion, we need a multi-billion dollar anti-poverty program for the poor working families of this state, particularly for Black and Brown families. Show us the money Governor or shut up! I’m calling on the new majority Democratic Senate and Democratic Assembly to check the Governor and prioritize the struggling families and communities of this state when it comes to budget negotiations,” said Assemblyman Charles Barron, District 60.

“Buffalo schools are owed $116 million in Foundation Aid and our children need these funds to ensure that we can have vibrant community schools, we can provide the social, emotional and academic supports children need to succeed. High wealth  school districts were reimbursed for GAP elimination funds and now high need districts need to be reimbursed the funds their students were shorted,” said Assemblyman Sean Ryan, District 149.

“The people of New York elected an overwhelming progressive Democratic Majority to the Senate because they are hungry for real change, not the same old, same old. When it comes to education, Governor Cuomo’s budget fails to do what is needed. Anything less than a commitment to fully fund Foundation Aid is simply unacceptable,” said Senator Julia Salazar, District 18.

“The Governor’s budget proposal includes a real reduction in education funding — it doesn’t even keep up with inflation. How’s that equitable? Let’s get serious about fair school funding — CFE, Foundation Aid, whatever you call it, our kids deserve the $4 billion as ordered by the court!” said Senator John Liu, District 11.

Failing to fully fund Foundation Aid hurts students in all high need districts, but it disproportionately impacts Black and Latinx students because two-thirds of the Foundation Aid is owed to school districts that are majority Black and Latinx. The Foundation Aid formula was enacted in response to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit and although Governor Cuomo originally campaigned on the issue in 2010, he now denies that the schools need the money. Now, in his budget briefing book, he is embracing the education politics of conservative Republican George Pataki. Despite the fact that the spending gap between rich and poor school districts is nearly $10,000 per pupil, Governor Cuomo has attempted to pass the buck on educational equity away from the state and onto the state’s poorest school districts.