Education advocates push back against school aid withholding, proposed cuts

NY Capitol News

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — As we near the start of the new school year, lawmakers, parents and students are voicing concerns about the state of school funding. Governor Andrew Cuomo has said 20 percent cuts will be on the way if Washington doesn’t act. 

“Students are grieving; we are scared. Our lives have been upended, our futures are uncertain, and more than ever, we need the support our district is unable to provide without proper funding,” said Rochester student Tali Beckwith-Cohen. 

The Alliance for Quality Education said school districts were informed of a temporary 20 percent withholding in state aid while the wait for the next federal stimulus continues. Without action, advocates said $128 million in cuts could be on the way for the Rochester City School District.

“I don’t even know what there is left to cut. We have lost so much we cannot afford to lose any more,” said Beckwith-Cohen.

Advocates said a short-term solution would be tapping into rainy-day funds.

“According to the Fiscal Policy Institute, New York State has over $2 billion in the rainy-day funds and over $2 billion in funds from settlements. This is a rainy day,” said Alliance for Quality Education Executive Director Jasmine Gripper. 

Long-term, State Senator Robert Jackson and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal are sponsoring legislation that would increase taxes on the ultra-wealthy to fund schools. 

“How can we look at ourselves in the mirror and say we’ve done all we could for the next generation if we don’t pass this bill and other revenue raisers so that our state’s kids can function in the future?” Rosenthal said.

Proposals to increase taxes on millionaires and billionaires have been opposed by Republican lawmakers who say that could cause more people to leave the state.

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