New York State closes gap on school aid
New York State is doing away with a funding cut that has kept billions of dollars out of schools, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office announced last week.
Legislators recently agreed on a state budget that would end the Gap Elimination Adjustment, a deduction taken out of each school district’s aid for the last several years, originally enacted to close a state budget deficit.
Parents, educators and even legislators have long been advocating for the adjustment’s finish but the push became a shove after state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport), the majority leader, sponsored legislation to get rid of it. Flanagan called axing the Gap Elimination Adjustment his “top education funding priority” earlier this year.
“We will not pass any budget that does not fully eliminate it this year,” he said. The deduction “has been hurting schools and students for way too long and it is past time that we end it once and for all.”
Over the past five years, legislators had reduced the total statewide deduction from $3 billion to $434 million. In the next school year, it will be removed all together.
“Over the years, the GEA forced many school districts to cut educational programs and reduce services,” Sen. Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) said in a statement. “This restoration of aid will greatly help local school districts, and our taxpayers, with the budget funds necessary to educate our children.”
State school aid is projected to increase to almost $25 billion overall — and Long Island is slated to get $3 billion of that.
The New York State School Boards Association noted that the additional aid comes just as the state’s almost 700 school districts are grappling with a “record low” cap on how much they can increase their tax levies, a limit mandated by the state.
“The infusion of state aid will help them preserve student programs and services while still keeping property taxes in check,” the group’s executive director, Timothy G. Kremer, said in a statement.
However, the association said the state should “make sensible adjustments” to the tax levy cap, suggesting officials no longer use the rate of inflation as the standard for setting the limit each year.