Governor, Legislative Leaders agree to agree on a state budget

Monday, March 28th, 2011 at 4:13 pm by

Yesterday, Governor Cuomo and the Legislative Leaders announced agreement on a state budget for 2011-12.

They have not resolved all details, however.

Passage of the actual budget bills may not happen until Wednesday or Thursday.

We may not see School Aid runs or the detailed budget bills until Wednesday or Thursday, either.

The Governor and Legislature announced that they will add $272 million to the budget for education for the state fiscal year, beyond what the Governor proposed.

At a meeting of the Assembly-Senate budget conference committee on education, the co-chairs (Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan and Senator John Flanagan) said the budget would add $230 million for School Aid.

There is no solid information on how this School Aid restoration would be allocated.

Because school years start and end three months later than state fiscal years, School Aid payments for any school year are split between two state fiscal years (70 percent in the first year, 30 percent in the second).

I presume that the $230 million figure is the School Aid addition for the 2011-12 school year.

Accordingly, I assume that the School Aid restoration accounts for about $161 million (70% X $230 million) of $272 million overall add for education for the state fiscal year.

The agreed-on budget would also reject the proposed shift of Summer Special Education costs, and reject the proposal to reconfigure the funding of private [section] “4201 schools” for students with disabilities.

However, the new budget would have school districts pay costs for resident students attending 4201 schools upfront, then be reimbursed by the state.  Up to one half the reimbursement would be paid on or after April 1 — in the first quarter of the following state fiscal year.

Taken together, School Aid restoration and averting the Summer Special Education and 4201 school cost shifts would absorb most of the $272 million overall add for education for the state fiscal year.

Funding for a few programs, including Teacher Centers, has yet to be resolved.

The Legislature also rejects the proposal to have school districts assume the entire state share of room and board costs for residential special education placements. This restoration is being funded from another part of the budget and does not count as part of the $272 million for education.  It may not be a complete rejection, however; there could be some new costs for school districts.

The budget also rejects proposals to convert Building Aid to a competitive priority grant program and to apply a less generous reimbursement rate to BOCES Aid and deny BOCES Aid for many shared management services.

The budget will include funding for the Governor’s two, $250 million, incentive grant programs (one for performance gains, one for management efficiencies), but language to govern the programs was still being negotiated as of a few hours ago.

The budget will also include authorization for districts to use “excess” funds in Employee Benefits Accrued Liability Reserve accounts to offset aid reductions.

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