Recognizing that local schools are struggling to close budget deficits caused by prior state aid cuts, Assemblyman Andy Goodell (R,C,I Chautauqua) is proposing a substantial increase in education funding for local schools.
In 2011, the state was forced to reduce school aid in an effort to eliminate a $10 billion budgetary gap. This cut was called a “Gap Elimination Adjustment” (GEA).
Over the last few years, the State Legislature has gradually restored school aid, but there is still a $1.6 billion shortfall compared to four years ago. The governor proposed increasing school aid by $323 million, still leaving school aid about $1.3 billion short.
Goodell is supporting efforts to increase funding by an additional $500 million to further reduce the shortfall, with the expectation that the shortfall would then be eliminated entirely within the next two years.
The additional $500 million would be obtained from two sources within the Governor’s existing budget proposal. First, Goodell is calling for a transfer of $400 million from the proposed property tax cap reimbursement program to school aid. The governor’s proposed tax cap program would reimburse taxpayers in those school districts that stay below the two percent tax cap for any increase, but would provide no financial assistance to taxpayers in districts that are facing the most serious financial problems.
“I believe that state aid should be used to help poorer school districts,” said Goodell, “not just the wealthy districts that can afford to stay below the tax cap.”
The second source of funds would be the $100 million from money designated for Universal Pre-K into general school aid. School districts could use that money for their top priorities, which may include Pre-K or other higher priorities as per the local school boards, with input from teachers and parents.
Last week, Goodell voted against the Assembly Majority’s one-house budget resolution because it lacked the needed education funding for Chautauqua County schools.
“The Majority’s budget proposal does little to provide equitable education aid to schools across the state, including those in Chautauqua County,” said Goodell. “While the Assembly Majority’s proposal does slightly increase the amount of GEA funds from the governor’s proposal, the nearly $1.3 billion in remaining GEA funding owed to our schools is a travesty.”
Goodell was recently represented at a rally of local school officials fighting to eliminate the outstanding GEA funding. Assemblyman Giglio and Sen. Young also were represented, and all three are pushing for greater GEA funding in this year’s state budget.
In the Assembly’s one-house budget proposal, the Assembly Majority directed the largest portion of funding toward New York City and other large-city schools across the state. However, more GEA funding would provide greater relief to schools statewide.