Lawmakers in Whitestone blast Cuomo for ‘inadequate’ education budget plan

Photo by Jenna Bagcal/QNS

A host of northeast Queens representatives gathered in Whitestone on Feb. 7 to slam Governor Andrew Cuomo’s “inadequate and inequitable” proposed education budget increase.

State Senator John Liu was joined by Assemblyman Dan Rosenthal and representatives from the offices of Assembly members Nily Rozic and David Weprin at the press conference, during which they charged that the state has fallen $4 billion short in education funding and local public schools are feeling its effects.

After attending an education budget hearing in Albany on Feb. 6. the elected officials learned that the governor’s proposal would only increase the budget by $956 million despite the state’s Department of Education and the Board of Regents recommendation of a $2.1 billion increase.

“Unfortunately for our constituents, pretty much none of the schools in our area will get any additional funding,” Liu said of the 182 northeast Queens public schools. “The executive budget is absolutely inadequate when it comes to school funding and it is unwise when it starts to dictate how a local school district is managing its affairs.”

The lawmakers also reported that out of the $956 million, only $388 million would go toward increases in Foundation Aid — state funding that supplements local school district funding that provides sufficient resources.

In the past, New York City schools received Foundation Aid funding and were responsible for deciding how the money would be allocated. Now, the lawmakers reported that there are stipulations in the executive budget that say which schools get additional money and which do not.

Rosenthal echoed these sentiments and reported that he learned which schools would and would not receive additional funding from Mayor de Blasio’s staff up in Albany. He said that he believed the budget was being “micromanaged” and added that it should be up to the city DOE and Chancellor Richard Carranza to determine how funding is allocated.

“My district will be hit hard by this,” Rosenthal said. “We try to visit all our schools throughout the year, we meet principals to see what their needs are and we try to help them with our own capital allocations. But we still have schools in Queens that are significantly underfunded. We still walk into schools that are asking us for laptops, air conditioning in gyms and a lot of things which you would consider to be basic needs and it’s extremely concerning.”

Back in August 2018, Liu, Rosenthal and Assemblyman Ron Kim were among the northeast Queens lawmakers who rallied for city public schools to receive their fair share of funding. Liu explained that fair shares are determined by the New York Court of Appeals in the Campaign for Fiscal Equity lawsuit in 2007.

“That determination was made 12 years ago and it’s well established that the state government still owes the school children of this state $4 billion more in the state budget,” he said adding that the state Department of Education and Board of regents recommended that $1.66 billion be added to the state budget over the next three years to reach that goal.

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