CALL TO ACTION: THE GEA MUST GO!
February 7, 2014
“THE GEA MUST GO!”
This week, NYSSBA delivered a legislative priority paper on the Gap Elimination Adjustment to all 213 members of the state legislature. The paper detailed the devastating impact of the GEA on school districts through program cuts, staff reductions and loss of student opportunities. Given the Governor’s claimed state budget surplus, NYSSBA made it clear that this reduction in state aid for schools must end now.
Now is the time to contact your state legislators by phone, email, fax and social media to help strengthen this vital message. Schools and local taxpayers alike continue to suffer because of the GEA and your elected representatives are the ones that have the ability to end these destructive cuts.
To view the legislative priority paper on the GAP ELIMINATION ADJUSTMENT
The Gap Elimination Adjustment, or GEA, was created as an “adjustment” to state aid for schools in order to “eliminate” the state’s budget gap. As the state now projects a combined $4 billion surplus over the next three fiscal years, there ceases be a gap that needs to be eliminated by a state aid adjustment. It is simply irresponsible to claim a budget surplus when it is generated by a built-in reduction in aid to schools. This is particularly true when its need is for the purpose of providing additional property tax relief, as insufficient aid will obviously drive up those same local property taxes. New York State must eliminate the Gap Elimination Adjustment and restore state aid to levels that allow our schools to educate and prepare our students for an ever-competitive world.
As recently as 2008-09, state aid comprised approximately 40 percent of total school district revenue. According to a January 2014 report by the state comptroller, that portion has fallen to a mere 34 percent; one of the worst percentages in the nation. This depressed state support has come at a time when the property tax cap has restricted districts’ ability to raise local revenue as well. Our schools have been forced to eliminate programs, lay-off staff and deplete ‘rainy day’ funds in attempt to remain financially and educationally solvent.
Make no mistake: Additional state aid loss due to GEA reductions will continue to erode the quality of education our school districts can provide. The state cannot continue to pass along its revenue shortfalls to local school districts. School boards have and will continue to strive for efficiencies but they will also be forced to continue making detrimental cuts to personnel, the educational program, services and extracurricular activities and to continue depleting what is left of their reserves. The GEA must be eliminated now!
Please contact your legislators by calling
(518) 455-4100 for your Member of the Assembly; (518) 455-2800 for your Senator
Budget negotiations are taking place now. Please call today!