On Wednesday, Jan. 13, New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a state
budget proposal that includes a $991 million school aid increase for 2016-17.
The governor outlined his education agenda as part of the combined 2016 State of the State and Executive Budget Address. His proposals include support for struggling schools, expanding universal prekindergarten, new investments to benefit charter and nonpublic schools, and changes to the school tax relief (STAR) program. Cuomo also called on the New York State Education Department to enact the recent recommendations of his Common Core Task Force.
The budget proposal contained a $2.1 billion total school aid increase over a
two-year period covering the 2016-17 and 2017-18 school years. The $991 million
increase proposed for the first of those years would represent a 4.3 percent
increase in state education funding, bringing it to a total of $24.2 billion
next school year. However, the proposed year-to-year increase is less than half
of what the state Board of Regents and statewide education groups have said
schools need next year to ensure studentsâ€™ success.
The bulk of the aid increase proposed for next year would be split in three ways: $408 million to reimburse schools for costs such as transportation, construction and BOCES services; $266 million for Foundation Aid, the main source of funding for general school operations; and $189 million to partially restore the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA), a practice of diverting promised funding from schools that began six years ago to help the state deal with a budget shortfall at that time.
By contrast, in December, the Board of Regents recommended a $2.4 billion total school aid increase for 2016-17 alone. It called for a $1.3 billion increase in Foundation Aid next year and $434 million to end the GEA in one year, a priority for other statewide education groups as well.
The Executive Budget Proposal formally opens the budget negotiations between the governor and the New York State Legislature. In the coming months, the Assembly and the Senate will also release budget proposals. Legislators have until April 1 to adopt an on-time state budget.
In addition to the school aid proposals above, the governorâ€™s executive budget also included several other items related to education.
In his address, Cuomo also urged the state Education Department to move forward with the recommendations of his recent Common Core Task Force, including reviewing and adjusting the Common Core standards and addressing issues with state assessments. He said the number of students who opted out of last yearâ€™s assessments signified a loss of parental trust in the stateâ€™s education system and acting on the task forceâ€™s recommendations would help restore it.