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School districts may face double burden of tax cap, state aid cuts

In terms of education, the budget calls for the following, according to a press release from the governor's office:

The Executive Budget reduces school aid in 2009-10 by $698 million, or 3.3 percent, from 2008-09 while maintaining a commitment to both long-term increases in education investments and the formulas created to equitably allocate these funds. Even after reductions, funding for school aid would still total $20.7 billion in 2009-10, a 42 percent or $6.2 billion increase compared to 2003-04. Proposed reductions are structured progressively based on district fiscal resources and student need. Savings are also achieved through reductions or eliminations in categorical programs to prevent further reductions in direct aid to schools. Gov. Paterson remains committed to the education investment plan advanced in 2007-08 to increase school aid by $7 billion over a multi-year period. But significant funding increases in foundation aid and universal pre-kindergarten that were scheduled to be phased-in over a four-year period will now be phased-in over an eight year period to reflect the need to adapt to the difficult fiscal environment. The executive budget also proposes mandate relief measures to help school districts control costs.

Paterson had tried to avoid such steep cuts earlier this year by calling the legislature into a special session in November. At that time, he asked them to consider an $836 million mid-year reduction in aid to school districts for 2008-09. The proposal would have provided most, though not all, districts with increased funding from last year and would have still allowed overall school aid to increase by 16 percent over the last two years. The legislature, however, failed to act on the proposal, and Paterson said that failure forced him to make more drastic decisions for the 2009-10 budget.

Paterson said he remains committed to educational excellence in New York state, but the state can't afford to maintain the same level of funding.

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