New York's Children Deserve Better

Imagine trying to budget for everyday expenses like food, electricity or gasoline if you didn’t know how much money was going to be in the next paycheck. School administrators across the state are experiencing a similar situation.
 
New York school districts are being held hostage by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. His refusal to release school aid projections is an unprecedented move that flies in the face of basic fiscal planning and is a disservice to all New Yorkers, especially our children.
 
EDUCATION BUDGET BREAKDOWN THIS WEEK
 
This week, there is a series of legislative budget hearings, including one on education spending, which will be substantially handicapped due to the governor’s withholding of estimates. Cuomo says he is proposing a $1.1 billion increase in school aid this year, but only if his education agenda is passed. Otherwise, districts will see hundreds of millions less and will be allocated a $376 million increase instead.
 
I have continually called for an increase in school aid and have aggressively sought to restore the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), which slashed millions in funding from school districts around the state. I am co-sponsor of Assemblywoman Jane Corwin’s proposed legislation (A. 1091) to eliminate the GEA. The Governor’s budget must provide enough funding to give New York students a sound education. Threatening hundreds of millions of dollars with bully tactics and refusing to provide estimates to districts until his agenda is passed compromises the quality of education New York’s children receive.
 
Further, without knowing how much school aid to expect districts will struggle to determine what tax levy they will need. School districts are expected to provide a “2016 Proposed Levy” by March 1, according to a letter sent from the New York State Education Conference Board to Cuomo. As per the tax cap established in 2011, the letter states that districts are to use the Executive Budget estimates to calculate the proposed levy. Under the governor’s misguided strategy, this is impossible.
 
A STATE IN FLUX
 
The past week, the state was rocked by the news of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s alleged corruption. To date, no bills have been passed in the Assembly, no legislation has been considered in committees. The people’s business is simply not getting done. Governor Cuomo’s maneuvering on education only adds to the confusion and does nothing to show taxpayers they can trust their government.

Considering how critically important our children’s education is, I am asking the Governor to give the districts the information they are asking for and negotiate the budget and education reforms in good faith. New York’s children deserve no less.
 
What do you think?  I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030, email me at kolbb@assembly.state.ny.us, find me by searching for Assemblyman Brian Kolb on Facebook, and follow me on Twitter.

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