Serrano Demands Fair Funding For Education

José M. Serrano

March 27, 2007

Albany, March 27 – In the final week of budget negotiations, Senator José M. Serrano (D-Manhattan/Bronx) has called on Senate's Majority to invest education funds in the districts that need them most.

"For too long, this State Government has diverted money away from high-need and city schools," said the Senator. "Now is the time for a new direction."

With support from the Assembly, Governor Spitzer has proposed a $7 billion statewide increase in school aid over the next four years. It would represent the greatest education investment in New York State history.

The Governor’s proposed fair funding formula would ensure that every education dollar is distributed on the basis of need, this fiscal year and in the future.

"Unfortunately, the Senate's Majority are beholden to the status quo. Their plan would reinforce existing formulas that favor the wealthiest school districts," said the Senator, who sits on the Senate Education Committee.

"TheMajority pays lip service to fair distribution. They continue to push for so-called Long Island ‘shares’ to be spread equally among school districts in Suffolk and Nassau counties.

"The truth is that 80 percent of needy districts on Long Island will lose future resources under the Senate plan, while 74 percent of wealthy districts will gain."

Across the state, the Republican plan would increase future aid to wealthy districts by 10 percent, with schools in New York City and other urban areas left to bear the burden.

The Governor’s plan, however, would provide the largest increase – 46.4 percent – to poor districts, while still offering reasonable increases of 12.5 percent to wealthy districts.

"We are not throwing money at a problem," said Senator Serrano. "Instead, we are ready to fix the problem."

He pointed to the Contracts for Excellence initiative, which would require strategic investments in research-tested educational strategies that improve student achievement. These strategies include reducing class size, providing full-day pre-kindergarten classes, and improving teacher quality.

"Tell your friends upstate and in the suburbs: the Governor’s proposal is an investment in the future of New York State," said the Senator. "Making the right decision will pay dividends for kids from Buffalo to the Bronx and everywhere in between."

He added, "Right now, education funding is the stumbling block between entrenched interests and real reform. Senate Republicans need to learn their lesson."