FINCH: STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION ON SCHOOL AID, DEVELOPMENTALLY DISABLED SHORT-CHANGED
Assemblyman Gary D. Finch (R,C,I-Springport) noted that while the budget is imperfect and will require improvement in the future, the restoration and increase of funding for the school aid package is key to keeping our schools out of jeopardy.
“While our state faces many economic challenges, preparing our young people for the future is always of paramount importance,” said Finch. “In addressing the concerns of today, we must always keep in the mind the next generation and lay the groundwork for them. I believe that the restoration and increase to school aid is a step in the right direction. However, more work is needed and the reality is that school districts will still have to go the local property taxpayers to provide the necessary funds for our children.
“I am also greatly concerned for the developmentally disabled who have been wholly short-changed by this budget; $90 million in cuts is unacceptable. Historically, our citizens with developmental disabilities seem to be the last in line when funds run low and we must take action to address this. The effort to amend this budget and restore full funding failed today, but it is my hope that the governor will take action on this very important issue.”
In the governor’s executive budget proposal, he proposed $120 million in cuts to the Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD). During the budget negotiations, the majorities in the Senate and Assembly agreed with the governor to restore $30 million of the proposed $120 million in cuts. Finch and his colleagues in the Assembly Minority called for a complete restoration of funding for the $90 million not included. The amendment to restore the $90 million was struck down on the Assembly floor.
The school aid package for 2013-2014 provides $20.8 billion in total aid to districts. The year-to-year increase is $936.6 million or 4.5 percent, which is $386.3 million more than the governor proposed in his executive budget. The two-year school aid increase is $1.7 billion and the package includes increases to the gap elimination adjustment and foundation aid, as well as full restoration of high tax aid. Notably, upstate and the Hudson Valley will be receiving $451.2 million, or 48 percent, of the aid increase.
In the 126th Assembly District, Cayuga County School Districts will see a total increase of $7,558,278, Chenango County School Districts will receive an increase of $4,341,251, Cortland County School Districts will receive an overall increase of $2,437,780 and Onondaga County School Districts are set to be given a total increase of $18,672,038.