The day before Gov. Cuomo releases his executive budget and delivers his State of the State address, Assembly Education Committee Chair Cathy Nolan and state Sen. Kevin Parker released a letter from 82 legislators in both houses calling on the governor to increase education funding by $2.2 billion to "cover the cuts of prior years and prepare our students for the global economy."
Sen. Cathy Nolan
NYSUT Executive Vice President Andy Pallotta, Alliance for Quality Education Executive Director Billy Easton and leaders of the union's coalition partners and numerous legislators flanked Nolan and Parker at Tuesday's announcement.
"It's a moral imperative that the governor fund education this year," said Pallotta. "The eyes of America are on this governor and how he funds education. New York's public education system is one of the strongest and most successful in the nation, and it can be even stronger if we make smart investments in the future of our state's children. Speaker Silver, Assemblywoman Nolan, Senator Parker and legislators from both houses standing with us today understand that. They know the right direction includes listening to the concerns of students, parents and educators, not the phony 'reforms' pushed by billionaires."
Assembly leaders "have always supported adequate funding for our schools," Nolan said. "As the parent of a public school student I know our children need more state funding to keep the promise of public schools as a fair opportunity for all children to succeed."
"As members of the Senate, we are called upon to invest in community and economic development as cornerstones of our growth and prosperity," said Parker. The best investment "improves the quality and parity of education for our children across the rural, suburban, ex-urban and urban communities of every size in our state."
"We are pleased that so many lawmakers in Albany are united behind education," said AQE's Easton. "It's time Gov. Cuomo steps up and supports our public schools and stops his anti-public education rhetoric. It's vital for the children of this state."
The letter comes just a week after AQE's latest report, Record-Setting Inequality: New York State's Opportunity Gap is Wider Than Ever, which documents that, under Cuomo, the funding gap between rich and poor districts is the largest it has ever been. The report shows that the governor's policies have resulted in cuts to art, music, sports, after-school programs, career and technical education and more.
The letter also backed the Board of Regents' recommendation for $250 million for full-day pre-K throughout the state. Currently, only 4 percent of children outside New York City have access to state-supported full-day pre-K.
The letter's release also comes one day before the Small Cities School Districts lawsuit against New York State goes to trial. The lawsuit challenges the state for constitutional violations in underfunding eight city school districts.