The New York State budget is in place, even one day before the April 1st deadline. To the Governor's credit, he cut $10 billion out of the 2011-2012 state budget.
Considering the terrible fiscal situation in New York State, this is a positive step forward in getting the state's financial house in order. But the real tragedy is that a lot of pain for the less fortunate could have been averted, as the New York Times reported, if the Governor had not insisted on giving a tax break to millionaires "while cutting money for schools, the elderly, the poor and the sick".
I will never quite understand that, but we have to move on.
In the end, the final state budget restored approximately $230 million, but K-12 education still took a major hit of $1.270 billion. And what is even more tragic, the poor and average need school districts took a disproportionate state aid reduction. A good example of this is Illion, not far from Utica, which operates its district on $25 million a year. Illion lost $1 million in state aid. At the same time, Syosset, a Long Island school district with an annual budget of more than $188 million, lost a very small amount of aid - $786,000.
You don't have to go as far as Illion. North Syracuse, with a budget of $136 million, $52 million less than Syosset, lost $7.2 million when the final bell was sounded. State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was absolutely right when he said that average need school districts took the greater aid reductions, disproportionally, certainly not the low need districts. To be truthful, it's not really a down state - up state issue. Many financially strong up state districts took lower per pupil aid cuts than the average need districts.
With politics the way they are, I seriously question whether the formula will ever be calculated to fairly distribute aid to average and high need New York State school districts.