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WAMC New York News
Mon March 28, 2011
Five-year plan for funding education in NY
New Paltz, NY – A growing number of school districts in New York are facing significant funding issues, and one lawmaker believes he has an idea on how to address the issue, and how to make funding for schools more equitable. WAMC's Hudson Valley Bureau Chief Greg Fry reports...
State Assemblyman Kevin Cahill presented his idea to a crowd of more than 100 in New Paltz. While the audience was not in complete agreement, one point was made very clear - changes are needed. The Hudson Valley Assemblyman says the bill would deal with shrinking school districts, and would lead the state to take over the funding of education over a span of five years, through the collection of income tax.
Cahill is realistic that the proposal won't go through the Assembly this year, but says it's a conversation starter. He pitched the idea sitting next to Frank Mauro, the Director of the Fiscal Policy Institute. Mauro likes the idea of getting away from using property taxes to pay for education, but has other concerns. Mauro believes the way districts are funded should be more performance-based.
Cahill cites a high foreclosure and pre-foreclosure rate, and the connection to high property taxes. He says the idea is to address equity in education, and to relieve some of the cuts that districts are making.
However, Mauro is quick to point out that there are two points Cahill's bill doesn't address. He says because of the long-term implications, the bill does not address the immediate problems facing schools and taxpayers. Mauro says he's also hearing support for a circuit breaker proposal, which could provide a more immediate solution.
Rondout Valley School District Superintendent Rosario Agostaro says his district is trying to make up a four million dollar budget gap. When it comes to redistribution of funding for schools, Agostaro is on board with Cahill's idea, but says concerns over health care costs must be addressed in step with the measure.
Cahill is also calling for an entity that can re-structure how schools provide services - much like what the Berger Commission did for health care facilities throughout New York.
BILL NO A00447 SAME AS No same as SPONSOR Cahill (MS) COSPNSR Peoples-Stokes, Reilly, Rivera N, Weisenberg MLTSPNSR Boyland, Brennan, Destito, Latimer, Lavine, Molinaro, Robinson, Schroeder Add Title V Art 71 SS3501 - 3506, amd SS1909, 3601, 3602 & 3651, Ed L; rpld Art 13, amd RPT L, generally; rpld SS1204, 1211 & 1212, S1261 sub (e), S1262 sub (e), amd Tax L, generally Makes provisions for the state to assume all costs of basic quality education and for the elimination of real property taxes for the support of education; requires board of regents to establish a schedule of mandatory basic services and costs thereof; provides that school districts shall submit an annual basic budget to the department of education for basic services; increases taxes on personal income and business; makes special provisions for reduction of tax in certain cities and for reduction in rent by tenants in such cities; provides for phased in methods of funding using a "Basic Quality Education" formula; repeals certain provisions of the tax law and real property tax law relating thereto.