Education Budget Fails Children

Statement on the 2019-20 Enacted Budget by Jasmine Gripper, Legislative Director, Alliance for Quality Education

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 31, 2019)—The 2019-20 enacted budget includes $1 billion total increase in school aid, with $618 million increase in Foundation Aid, which is basic operating aid. This is far below the New York State Board of Regents recommendation of $2.1 billion increase, including $1.6 in Foundation Aid. New York is number two in the nation in inequitable school funding and the funding gap between rich and poor schools has grown by 25 percent under Governor Cuomo. This budget will make educational inequity continue to grow.

“This year’s budget is one of dashed hopes and deferred dreams. Foundation Aid is the core funding for the education of our children. It is the money that gets into the classroom. With a $175.5 billion budget, the need for $1.2 billion in new Foundation AId seems like a drop in the bucket to educate and invest in the future of our state.  This time we cannot blame the Republicans. The reality is that the triple blue state leadership, took the route of protecting millionaires over transforming educational opportunity in the state.

“This budget fails to address the needs of students and their families. The $618 million increase of Foundation Aid is sorely inadequate, one that will not even make a dent in the systemic racism in education funding, but instead further locks it into place. This means more overcrowded classrooms, out of date technology, a continued crisis shortage of social workers and school counselors and grossly inadequate resources for student learning.

“There is no question that Andrew Cuomo is the biggest obstacle to providing every child in this state with a ‘sound, basic education.’ Once again he has planted himself firmly in front of the schoolhouse door to block the resources needed to educate every child,in particular Black, Brown, immigrant and economically disadvantaged children. Governor Cuomo continues to choose to be a champion of the millionaires and one percent  at the expense of our children’s education.

“The Legislature proposed one house budgets that would have met students’ needs, but in the enacted budget they negotiated a mere $50 million increase over the Cuomo proposal. Students need a more forceful commitment to educational justice from the Assembly and the Senate. On key revenue opportunities, like raising income taxes on ultra millionaires and enacting a Pied-a-Terre tax on luxury second homes, which in combination could have raised $2.6 to $4.6 billion, the houses of the legislature each took their turn at siding with the Governor.  To top it off, the legislature embraced the Governor’s plan for making the property tax cap permanent, but got nothing to help out our school children in exchange. In the end, budgets are about priorities and this one does not prioritize children’s education.

“Important gains, which AQE was proud to support, were made towards reducing mass incarceration. Over the remainder of the legislative session, the legislature must take the next step and end the school-to-prison pipeline and support culturally responsive education. New York State needs to ensure that all students have access to a positive and nurturing school climate where they feel supported and the diversity of the student body is celebrated.

“We recognize that many legislators fought hard on school funding, we wish to commend them for their leadership and commitment.”