The Citizens Budget Commission is criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education aid proposal, saying that it does not sufficiently distribute aid to the neediest school districts.
Cuomo’s Executive Budget proposal calls for increasing education aid by $769 million to $26.4 billion. Of that, the biggest portion of the increase is a boost of $338 million in Foundation aid, which is awarded to districts on a per-pupil basis based upon their income and property wealth.
While the plan directs a larger share of the increase to the neediest school districts, the nonpartisan organization that analyzes state and New York City finances says it does not go far enough.
Cuomo’s plan would freeze districts’ 2018 Foundation Aid amount and base any increases upon a new formula. However, the commission says the formula does not adequately take into account decreases in enrollment. Each school district would receive a minimum of a 0.25 percent increase in Foundation Aid – regardless of how wealthy it is or how much its enrollment has declined. The maximum increase an aid a district would receive under the governor’s plan is 7.6 percent, with the average being 1.4 percent.
The CBC said that there should not be an artificial “floor” set on the formula and the demographic data should be updated.
The commission noted that the Capital Region and the Southern Tier would see the greatest growth rate per pupil under Cuomo’s plan – an increase of 2.2 percent. Each student would see an additional $142 in funding.
The CBC criticizes a controversial proposal to cap the growth in so-called “expense based” aid at 2 percent in the 2019-2020. This is the aid the districts received based upon services used such as BOCES programs or transportation aid. This would save $119 million under Cuomo’s plan.
The commission said the governor should scrap that idea and let the formula run as designed and award less aid to the wealthiest districts in order to save money.