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Two days after the Assembly released its proposed budget, with a proposed $1.8 billion boost to education aid, the state Senate countered with its own package that includes lifting the cap on charter schools and boosting an education tax credit.

The Senate proposal would completely eliminate the gap elimination adjustment, which is the state aid take back enacted in 2010 in order to balance the state budget. About $1 billion in GEA funds would be restored. Total school aid would increase by $1.9 billion.

In addition, the Senate would increase the per-pupil funding to charter schools by more than what the governor proposed. Lawmakers are seeking an increase of $225, compared with Cuomo’s $75 hike, according to a news release. The budget also lifts the charter school cap and includes the Education Investment Tax Credit that would allow people to deduct from their taxes donations to schools.

Senate Republicans are also proposing doubling the tuition tax credit from $400 to $800 and the allowable tax deduction from $10,000 to $20,000. Recent graduates would also be able to deduct 100 percent of the interest on their student loans.

The news release doesn’t tout the fact that the Senate is backing Cuomo’s call to make student performance on state tests account for 50 percent of teachers’ evaluation score – instead of the 20 percent it is currently. The other 50 percent would be based on traditional measures of evaluation such as classroom observation. It would also implement a requirement that teachers receive tenure only after five consecutive years of effective or highly effective ratings and close teacher preparation programs in which less than 50 percent of the graduates pass the certification exam.

However, these proposed reforms are included in a separate bill from the budget.

The New York State United Teachers issued a statement giving credit to the Senate for at least making the education reforms separate from the budget bill.

“In separating out most of the governor’s education proposals from the budget negotiations, the Senate is clearly signaling that it, too, agrees public schools shouldn’t be held hostage to the governor’s ‘my-way-or-else’ approach,” said NYSUT President Karen E. Magee in a news release. “What’s unacceptable, however, is that the Senate Majority has simply repackaged into its own proposals some of the worst elements of Governor Cuomo’s test-and-punish agenda, including erosion of local control and more than doubling the weight of standardized tests. This is in sharp contrast to the Assembly’s strong support for public schools in its one-house proposal.” 

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