Update Regarding the Status of State Budget Negotiations for 2014

Tuesday afternoon SAANYS met with Senators Dean Skelos and John Flanagan, and with Assemblymember Catherine Nolan’s Legislative Director, Devra Nusbaum. The following is an update regarding the status of state budget negotiations for 2014.

General Support for Schools

At meetings with both the senate and assembly members, SAANYS expressed that the current proposal for state aid to schools is insufficient and will result in additional cuts of programs and personnel. We, again, recommended that any funds that are contemplated to initiate/support other programs (such as full-day pre-kindergarten, after school services, and P-TECH) be re-directed to operating aid. The current proposed allocation amounts are:

  • Governor – $21.9 billion ($807 million increase)
  • Senate – $21.9 billion ($811 million increase)
  • Assembly – $22.2 billion ($1.1 billion increase)

Foundation Aid /Gap Elimination Adjustment

The senate and assembly have adopted different approaches to the allocation of funds to reduce the Gap Elimination Adjustment versus increasing Foundation Aid. SAANYS expressed that our members’ school districts are in different positions – some would benefit more from reducing the GEA, some would benefit more from increased Foundation Aid. SAANYS recommended both in our legislative testimony. Current respective proposals follow:

  • Governor – Foundation Aid $15.182 billion (no increase); $323 million GEA restoration
  • Senate – Foundation Aid $15.182 billion (no increase); $541 million GEA restoration (phase-out in 2016-17)
  • Assembly – Foundation Aid $15.5 billion ($335 million increase); $367 million restoration (4-year phase-out)

Tax Freeze/Tax Cap

SAANYS expressed strong concern about the devastating consequences that would accrue from the proposed tax cap freeze – dramatically exacerbating those of the current tax cap. We also expressed to the senate representatives our upset with their contemplated action to make the Property Tax Cap permanent. Respective positions follow:

  • Governor – Property Tax Freeze tied to staying under the cap and mergers/consolidations
  • Senate – Property Tax Freeze tied to staying under the cap and would count prior actions – makes cap permanent
  • Assembly – Rejects Property Tax Freeze and provides a circuit-breaker tied to income

Mandate Relief

SAANYS expressed our continuing support of the governor’s proposal to establish a mechanism, with safeguards and parent notice and participation, for waivers from statutory requirements (and concomitant regulatory requirements) specified in §4402 and §4403 of Education Law. The status of this proposal follows:

  • Governor – Allow schools to request waivers from requirements in Sections 4402 and 4403
  • Senate – Allows schools to request waivers from requirements in Sections 4402 and 4403
  • Assembly – Rejects waivers for special education requirements

SAANYS continues to remain active in meeting with members of the legislature. Also, we are planning for our next Government Relations Committee Lobby Day on April 9.