January 2017 Issue - Labor Issues, Receivership, School Finance, Community Schools
February 01, 2017

NYSUT returns the KICKOFF in the annual state budget bowl

Author: By Ned Hoskin
Source: NYSUT United

The governor's January budget proposal is the starting point for weeks of debate and negotiation with the Legislature — and seemingly endless days of lobbying by NYSUT staff and grassroots activists.

Think of it this way: If the state budget were the Super Bowl, we'd have just received the opening kick off.

Let's take a look at some of the key points of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed $152.3 billion 2017–18 spending plan, which features a welcome focus on public education.

SCHOOL AID

The governor's proposal allocates $25.6 billion in funding for education next year, an increase of $1 billion, or approximately 4 percent. Here's how it breaks down:

  • $428 million in Foundation Aid this year. (The proposal eliminates the calculation of Foundation Aid going forward);
  • $333 million in expense-based aid, which includes BOCES;
  • $150 million for the creation of community schools; and
  • $89 million in other programs (e.g., after-school programs, expansion of pre-K).

NYSUT'S PRIORITY

Even with this significant school aid proposal, more school aid is needed in the enacted budget to support existing services, especially with a state tax cap number at 1.26 percent. NYSUT will advocate for maintaining the Foundation Aid formula, which provides needed predictability.

RECEIVERSHIP AND COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

The executive budget calls for $150 million to be set aside from Foundation Aid for community school conversion, an increase of $50 million to help districts with struggling schools or significant numbers of English language learners.

NYSUT'S PRIORITY

Of the community schools funding, only $50 million is new money, while $100 million is continued from 2016–17. NYSUT seeks an additional $50 million for a total of $100 million in new money, all of which should be categorical aid.

CHARTER SCHOOLS

Outside New York City, the charter school tuition formula remains frozen, and the budget proposal includes no building aid for charter schools.

NYSUT'S PRIORITY

The final budget must ensure that support for charter schools is contingent on transparency and accountability in the school's management and does not further burden local school districts.

TAX CAP

The executive budget does not address the property tax cap. The inflation-based state tax cap number — which local districts use to start the calculation of their own local cap number — will be 1.26 percent for 2017–18.

NYSUT'S PRIORITY

The tax cap must be fixed, either by making it a true 2 percent cap, or by eliminating the undemocratic 60 percent supermajority to authorize an override, or both.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Funding for SUNY, CUNY and the community colleges is essentially flat in the budget proposal.

NYSUT'S PRIORITY

We need a multi-year state investment plan to increase funding for SUNY and CUNY and a $250 per FTE student increase in base aid for community colleges. A more robust investment by the state would fund more full-time faculty, support students and expand course offerings.

SUNY HOSPITALS

The executive budget provides $69 million to SUNY hospitals, which represents a cut of $18.6 million or more than 21 percent.

NYSUT'S PRIORITY

The state must restore and increase funding for the medical centers, which will be more important than ever to communities that rely on the hospitals if the Affordable Care Act is repealed or eviscerated.

HEALTH CARE

The governor's plan would freeze the Medicare Part B premium at $104.90 per month for NYSHIP retirees with Medicare primary insurance, and it would eliminate the reimbursement of the income-related monthly adjustment amount (IRMAA).

NYSUT'S PRIORITY

With increases each year, retirees will have additional out-of-pocket health care costs, which constitutes a diminution of their established benefits. NYSUT is pursuing legal action.

TEACHER CENTERS

The executive budget proposal would eliminate funding ($14.3 million) for teacher centers.

NYSUT'S PRIORITY

NYSUT urges the Legislature to restore funding to at least its 2008–09 level of $40 million. To ensure all students are on track for college and career readiness, we must provide teachers and SRPs the resources and tools they need.

MILLIONAIRE'S TAX

The governor's budget proposes extending the "millionaire's tax" that brings in $3.7 billion a year.

NYSUT'S PRIORITY

The union supports the Assembly majority's progressive tax proposal to greatly expand the tax on the wealthy. It would raise an additional $5.6 billion annually that would be targeted to priorities like education, health care and infrastructure.

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