As I wrote in an earlier post, Governor Andrew Cuomo is very proud of the 2% tax cap that he placed (through legislation) on all school districts. They cannot pass a budget with an increase greater than 2% unless a supermajority of 60% of voters approve. This is undemocratic on its face, since 55% or 50.1% wins the election in a democratic society. But Cuomo wanted to show that he was a fiscal conservative. At the election a few days ago, 99% of the state’s school districts approved increases in their school budget, and the average increase was 1.9%, obviously to avoid the governor’s cap. Eighteen districts asked voters to approve an increase greater than 2%, and 12 districts did. New York spends a lot on public schools, but its funding is highly inequitable. The legislators from the most affluent districts take care of their own.
Want to know the real effects of Cuomo’s budget cap? Here is a comment by a reader who calls himself “Memphis Louie”:
Cuomo’s tax cap locked in a wide existing disparity in funding–and insures that the funding gaps will widen every year–and he calls this one of his great successes as governor. At the present time NY State’s wealthiest school districts spend $8,500 more per pupil than the 100 poorest school districts. Looking forward a 1% increase in the local tax levy in wealthy districts will raise over $400 per pupil while a similar increase in the levy in the poorest districts will generate an additional $51 per pupil. Project that out over a decade and our existing spending gaps widen into chasms. The result is that the students most likely to experience success are offered lavish programs while the students who come from the most challenging circumstances get barebones programs. Then our governor calls out the failing schools–the ones with the most challenging demographics….lots of noise–but never a solution from Cuomo! NY State’s funding formulas are highly politicized and contrived to drive state funds into the districts of key political leaders–essentially, school funding is distributed like pigs at the trough. The big pigs eat until they are full and the rest get the scraps! Cuomo touts this a one of his greatest successes and the TEAPublicans want to make it permanent (because even in our heavily gerrymandered state they feel threatened that enough people will go to the polls in 2016 that they will lose their majority!