Archive for March, 2019

Fix the Tax Cap

March 10th, 2019 by Robert Lowry

Governor Andrew Cuomo has been saying that he will not approve a 2019-20 budget for the state unless the property tax cap is made permanent. He reiterated that message this past week in columns in Long Island’s Newsday, the Lower Hudson Valley’s Journal News, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, and the Buffalo News.

The New York State Council of School Superintendents takes the position that the tax cap needs to be amended, if it is to be made permanent. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Council’s analysis of Governor Cuomo’s public school funding proposals

March 3rd, 2019 by Robert Lowry

Earlier this week we released our annual analysis of the public school funding proposals in Governor Cuomo’s 2019-20 proposed state budget.

Here are some of the key observations:

The Budget recommends a $338 million increase in Foundation Aid; at that rate more than 10 years would be required to fully phase-in the permanent law Foundation Aid formula. Enactment of the current proposal would leave the state $3.78 billion behind in phasing-in that formula.

The distribution of the proposed Foundation Aid increase is generally progressive, giving larger percentage aid increases to lower wealth, higher poverty districts. But a fifth of the state’s school districts would remain more than 25 percent below their full phase-in amounts; these districts are predominantly average wealth or below and their increases would average less than 1 percent.

Based on past trends, the proposal to consolidate 11 aid categories, including Transportation and BOCES Aids, into a new “Services Aid” formula will almost certainly result in most districts receiving less help from the state when the formula would go into effect (in 2020-21). The proposed growth factor in the formula is unlikely to keep pace with exceptional costs districts cannot control, such as the need to pay higher fuel costs or to transport more children to charter schools or out-of-district special education programs. The impact on BOCES shared services could be especially damaging for poor districts which rely upon them to provide students with opportunities they could not offer alone.

The Budget proposes to enable the state to require districts to reallocate funds to schools deemed “under-funded” and “high-need” relative to other schools within the district. But not every funding disparity is an inequity – insignificant differences in teacher experience could produce large spending differences among schools, for example. The proposal would supersede judgments by local educators and elected school boards with a clumsy state formula likely to require pointless reallocations, aggravate some parents, and satisfy no one.

The school property tax cap should not be made permanent without change, including allowing districts to exclude the local share of BOCES capital costs from the cap, as they can exclude the local share of district capital costs, and to realize revenue outside the cap from tax base growth generating payments in lieu of taxes, as they can now do with growth generating property tax revenue. These are commonsense adjustments, not major changes. They would provide similar treatment for similar considerations – two forms of capital expenditures and two forms of tax base growth.

The report was distributed to state legislators earlier in the week.

Past editions of the Council’s annual budget analysis can be found here.

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