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Educators to Spitzer: Keep Your School Budget Promise

December 14, 2007

Albany, NY - New York State is facing a $4 billion budget deficit, and educators worried about the shortfall are urging Gov. Eliot Spitzer not to "take it out on the kids." In Albany budget hearings Thursday, witnesses urged Spitzer to keep his promise to increase school spending by more than a billion dollars in 2008.

Trudy Renwick is with the Fiscal Policy Institute, which prepared a first-of-its-kind analysis of how much each of the state's 700 school districts is due to get. She says the Institute will be reviewing the budget closely.

"We know what we're looking for in the Governor's budget when it comes out, and we're looking for the full $1.24 billion. If there's anything less than that, then we would consider that breaking the deal that was made last year."

Matt Anderson with the State Budget Office says Spitzer remains committed to boosting the education budget, but nothing is guaranteed when times are tight.

"In a tough budget year, all spending programs are on the table. No final decisions have been made. But one of Gov. Spitzer's top priorities is education funding and delivering education for our children Jan. 22, when he will release his executive budget."

Renwick says the increased school aid is critical for the success of students in some of the state's most academically challenged districts.

"It makes a tremendous difference, particularly for the kids in New York City, but also the kids in Buffalo and Rochester and Syracuse, and in poor rural districts. They just do not have the resources that they need to meet the Regents standards."

Spitzer agreed to a $5 billion dollar increase in school funding over four years as part of the settlement of a 13-year-old lawsuit filed by the Campaign for Fiscal Equity.

Robert Knight/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NY