Archive for the 'State Budget' Category

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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An Alarming Report from State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli

November 8th, 2017 by Robert Lowry

Last week, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a report warning that state finances face “a triple threat of fiscal risks” from the combination of “projected budget gaps, weaker than expected personal income tax collections and cuts to federal programs.”

Yesterday, the Comptroller issued a new report amplifying that warning. The report projects that current year state revenues will fall $1.848 billion below the total projected by the Division of the Budget (DOB) in August. Revenues for 2018-19 are projected to fall $2.828 billion short of the August DOB projections. DOB is the office which leads the development of the Governor’s budget proposals and the implementation of enacted state budgets.

In August, DOB forecast a structural deficit of $4 billion for state fiscal year 2018-19. As I noted in an earlier blog post, a $4 billion deficit equates to about 4 percent of projected expenditures supported by state taxes, fees, the Lottery and other state sources. The Comptroller’s additional projected revenue shortfall for 2018-19 would raise next year’s structural deficit to $6.8 billion. Adding the current year shortfall would increase the gap for next year to $8.6 billion. Read the rest of this entry »

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State Budget Outlook, More Information Due Soon

November 1st, 2017 by Robert Lowry

Yesterday, State Comptroller DiNapoli released a report warning that the state faces a “triple threat of fiscal risks” from the combination of “projected budget gaps, weaker than expected personal income tax collections and cuts to federal programs.” Read the rest of this entry »

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SALT and Schools

November 1st, 2017 by Robert Lowry

New York State had a narrow escape from potential catastrophe when Republican efforts in Washington to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act failed once again in September. The Cassidy-Graham proposal would have stripped billions of dollars in Medicaid funding from the state budget and jeopardized health care coverage for an estimated 2.7 million New Yorkers, including perhaps one million children.

A new threat has emerged in the form of federal tax reform. Last week the House of Representatives passed an outline of federal budget for 2017-18 which envisioned ending deductibility of state and local taxes, referred to as “SALT.” Any reduction in SALT deductibility would be damaging for New York State and ultimately for schools. House leadership now plans to release its actual tax reform legislation this week. Read the rest of this entry »

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Looking Ahead — Schools and State Budgets

May 31st, 2017 by Robert Lowry

The Cuomo Administration’s financial plan released last week for the state budget enacted in April projects New York State will face a budget deficit of $4.02 billion and that School Aid will increase by $1.1 billion in 2018-19.

But behind these projection lies far greater uncertainty than usual.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Why we need School Aid runs

January 28th, 2015 by Robert Lowry

Yesterday, the Educational Conference Board released a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo calling for him to release district-by-district aid estimates for the $1.1 billion School Aid increase contained in his proposed state budget.

The release has received wide media attention (see here, here, here, and here) and at least one editorial endorsement.

I have been impressed by the level of frustration expressed by school district leaders over the absence of aid estimates and have assured Capitol staff it is spontaneous, not orchestrated.

For the first time in memory, a Governor has not included specific School Aid recommendations as part of the Executive Budget. This tactic undermines both local school budget planning as well as consideration of overall aid needs.

Read the rest of this entry »

Category: Finance, Legislation, State Budget | 1 Comment »

Dueling ads

January 20th, 2015 by Robert Lowry

Both New York State United Teachers and a pro-current reform agenda group launched television ads last week.

NYSUT’s cites a recent New York Times editorial which called upon Governor Andrew Cuomo to “…move beyond peripheral issues and political score settling…” and address “the central crisis in New York education,” adding “…that means confronting and proposing remedies for the racial and economic segregation that has gripped the state’s schools, as well as the inequality in school funding that prevents many poor districts from lifting their children up to state standards.”

The ad by Students First NY combines video excerpts from Governor Cuomo’s first state of the State address (in 2011) and super-imposed text.  It concludes “Our schools are not good enough. The status quo isn’t working. Governor Cuomo is right. It’s not just about money, it’s about fundamental reform. When? Now.”

Both ads are said to cost in “the high six figures” to run.

Both are brief, in the 30 second range.

Watch them here (NYSUT) and here (Students First)

 

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Home Room — January 2, 2014

January 2nd, 2014 by Robert Lowry

Happy New Year!

One of my resolutions is to get back to writing regularly for our blog.

Some items in the news over the past week or so… Read the rest of this entry »

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Budget reactions (updated 2X)

March 29th, 2013 by Robert Lowry

On Wednesday, I sent a note to superintendents asking, now that you have seen the School Aid run for your district, what are your reactions.

Here is one response, from the leader of a rural Western New York district.  I’d say it’s the most compelling, but the mixture of sentiments expressed is very typical:

My first reaction is one of sincere gratitude, and I called both of my legislators first thing this morning to thank them for their advocacy.

On the other hand, despite the increase, I spent my day today meeting with employees to let them know they are losing their jobs.

If future increases fail to make a more significant impact on the GEA [Gap Elimination Adjustment] more quickly, our district anticipates a growing gap in the two years following next, and we do not have many more places where we can cut.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Consolidation: An answer, not the answer

March 17th, 2013 by Robert Lowry

The Associated Press reports,

The New York state budget currently under negotiation may be remembered years from now as the beginning of the end for many small towns, cities and school districts.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo had tough words Friday for local officials facing fiscal crises and seeking more help from Albany, telling them they should consolidate services, school districts or whole governments rather than looking for relief from Albany.

 The piece goes on,

 “If it was really, really tough, you’d see that happen,” Cuomo said in his strongest comments yet on the local fiscal crises. “If you are a school district, or a city, or a town or a county, and you are looking for a fundamental financial reform, consolidation is one of the obvious ones.”

Consolidation is an answer to some financial challenges and should be one of the strategies available to manage fiscal threats.

But it is not the answer for all situations, and it is no answer for some of the most financially troubled communities.

Read the rest of this entry »

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