Assemblyman Robert C. Oaks is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to release his projected 2015-16 school funding data, information that is vital as school districts across the state face a March 1 deadline to submit preliminary tax levy data to the state.
In an unprecedented move, the governor withheld the data from his Executive Budget proposal until, or unless, the State Legislature enacts his new education policies.
“The governor is punishing school districts with this tactic. If he wants to negotiate education reform with the Legislature, I know the Assembly minority is ready to review and discuss education reform. In fact, we have submitted to the governor and all legislative leaders our own education reforms, such as the APPLE Plan,” said Oaks, who, as the Ranking Minority Member of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee, leads the Assembly Minority Conference on budget and fiscal matters. “School districts are already facing budget shortfalls as a result of the Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA). The Governor should be focused on fully funding the GEA, not on further tying the hands of school districts across the state, who are forced to consider layoffs and cuts to essential education programs in our schools because the Governor has not provided critical financial data”
Oaks joined Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb and members of the Minority Conference recently in Albany at a press conference calling for the governor to reconsider and release the information. Joining them was Timothy G. Kremer, the Executive Director of the New York State School Boards Association, along with other education advocates and school superintendents from throughout the state.
Kremer and the others spoke about the struggle school districts are currently facing as they prepare their school district budgets. School districts may be forced to make deep cuts to programs or attempt to raise property taxes above the two percent tax cap, which would require voters’ approval and an increase in property taxes.
Neither of these alternatives would be acceptable to local communities.
Having the school aid projections now would allow districts to prepare realistic budgets to present to their voters.