COLUMN: Proposed budget detailed

— The Governor proposed his executive budget on Jan. 22. Overall, it was a status quo budget that did not contain a lot of surprises. I was pleased to see more state aid provided to schools. However, I want to ensure that aid goes to schools that need it most. As was proposed last month, all of our Upstate schools are set to receive state aid increases. Considering previous budgets, this is welcome news. However, it would be nice to have – once and for all – an equitable school aid formula that would ensure more aid is directed toward schools that need it most.

The Governor estimates total spending to be $136.5 billion, a $2.5 billion increase from 2012-13. This includes federal funding. The State Operating Funds spending is $90.8 billion, an increase of $1.4 billion. (State Operating Funds exclude federal funds and long-term capital spending.) No new taxes were proposed.

I am concerned about how some of these programs – such restructuring pension costs, all-day pre-k and longer school days – will be sustainable for localities. We must continue to eliminate government waste and have services that we can afford, that work for the people, as well as create policy that truly make it easier to do business in this state.

I wanted to share with you some of the details in the budget so you have the facts about what is on the table for the Legislature and the public. We have until April 1 to pass a budget. In recent years, we have passed a budget on time and I hope we can do so again this year.

Education aid increased 4.4 percent or $300 per student. This is a total increase of $889 million. Some of the ideas proposed include:

Creating a full-day pre-K program targeted toward higher need students in low-wealth school districts with a competitive grant process. ($25 million)

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