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Monday, March 19, 2007

Is The Spitzer School Budget Class Warfare?

State Senator Joseph Bruno has called the state funding scheme for public schools " class warfare." He and the GOP Senate majority oppose the formula proposed for our public schools, not because it would take money from the richest school districts (no district would lose money) but because it would allocate money on the basis of need, not greed. As a result, were the Spitzer proposal adopted, NYC's share of the education budget would rise above the 39% which it has traditionally been. All this was explained in an unusually clear way by Michael Cooper in the NY Times a few days ago. Can you stand more? Tuesday's Newsday has the current state of play of the Spitzer/Bruno school budget proposals.

Mr. Cooper omitted from his, otherwise excellent, article an analysis of how the current State funding formula impacts New York City. NYC and every other school district with lower income children and higher needs, end up paying higher tax rates to support worse schools while rich, suburban districts pay lower rates to support better ones. Money actually flows out of NYC to subsidize those better schools in richer districts as Larry Littlefield has pointed out in a series of links posts on "Room 8."

The GOP solution is to preserve the lock-step funding formula by adding some $500 million more to the budget to aid wealthier school districts. It's important to them that the rich not lose their proportion of state subsidy -- regardless of their need. Can you stand to read more? Try the Citizens Budget Commission long, but thoughtful and sadly, not yet dated, 2004 report on school funding -- a pdf file.

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