Governor’s Budget, Coupled with Property Tax Cap, Would Harm Schools
FOR RELEASE: January 22, 2008
CONTACT: David Albert
(518) 783-3716 or (518) 320-2221 cell
The New York State School Boards Association today warned that a proposed $350 million reduction in planned foundation aid to schools, coupled with the imposition of a local property tax cap, could have dire consequences for local school districts around the state.
“The New York State School Boards Association acknowledges the difficult choices the governor had to make when putting together his 2008-09 state budget proposal,” said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. “While the $900 million increase in foundation aid to school districts represents a healthy increase over last year, we are disappointed that the governor has scaled back the planned $1.25 billion increase.”
Kremer added, “Schools are facing dramatic increases in expenses such as health care premiums, fuel costs and special education requirements. The imposition of a property tax cap would, along with lower than expected state aid, impair school districts’ ability to meet the multitude of expenses that are rising beyond the simple rate of inflation.”
Kremer suggested that the state consider capping the local portion of expenses such as special education, health care and pension contributions and then pay the difference, just as it does for county Medicaid costs. Kremer also suggested that the state make some hard choices such as exempting school construction projects from the Wicks Law, freezing expired employment contracts, and introducing a defined contribution plan for school employees in order to help reduce school district costs.
Of particular concern is the governor’s proposal to shift the costs of evaluating preschool-age children with disabilities from the counties to school districts.
“Less predictability in state aid, the threat of a property tax cap, and placing more costs on school districts will mean that school boards will have their work cut out for them when putting together district budgets this spring,” Kremer said.
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