Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre: Assembly Budget Proposal Increases Education Aid by $1.8 Billion and Helps Make College Affordable

Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre (D-Babylon) announced she helped pass the state Assembly’s 2017-18 one-house budget proposal, which increases education aid by $1.8 billion to ensure students get the best education possible and expands access to higher education.

“Far too many schools are still lacking the resources necessary to provide our children with the education they need and deserve,” Jean-Pierre said. “The Assembly’s plan supports students through all stages of learning because when students succeed, New York succeeds.”

Strengthening New York’s education system

The Assembly’s state budget proposal provides a total of $26.3 billion in education funding – an increase of $1.8 billion over last year and $877 million more than the executive budget proposal. The Assembly’s proposal supports early education, allocating $847 million for prekindergarten programs. It also allows the state Education Department (SED) to allocate funding based on need, as opposed to a request for proposal process.

Additionally, the Assembly’s plan requires the SED commissioner to study the unmet need for public pre-K programs and report on the funding needed to meet them. Further, the proposal would exempt SED from the executive hiring freeze, allowing them to hire much-needed staff to provide technical assistance to pre-K programs statewide, in a timely manner. Assemblywoman Jean-Pierre has been advocating for the creation of a Regional Pre-K Technical Assistance Center on Long Island. “These individuals would be essential in lending support to ensure our children receive the best possible education, and is a step in the right direction toward fulfilling a need for pre-K assistance,” noted Jean-Pierre.

The Assembly’s plan rejects the executive’s proposed repeal of the Foundation Aid Formula, which is essential to ensuring New York keeps its promise to provide every child with a sound education. The Assembly’s plan would instead phase in total funding over the course of four years, while updating and adjusting the formula and increasing Foundation Aid by $1.4 billion for the 2017-18 school year, for a total of $17.8 billion.

“Our children’s futures always come first, period. I’ll keep fighting to strengthen Long Island’s public schools so every child has a fair shot at a brighter future,” Jean-Pierre said.

Community Schools Aid also increases by $50 million under the Assembly’s plan, for a total of $150 million. The plan also removes the freeze on reimbursements for expense-based aid and provides $38 million. Additionally, the Assembly’s proposal requires that the $75 million grant to transform struggling schools be made immediately available.

Expanding access to higher education

The Assembly budget proposal makes significant investments in college opportunity programs, SUNY and CUNY schools and community colleges. “A college degree can open many doors of opportunity, and the Assembly Majority is committed to ensuring that everyone has a fair chance at success,” Jean-Pierre noted. And to ensure no one is left behind, the Assembly’s proposal also includes the DREAM Act so that hardworking, eligible children of immigrants can afford to go to college.

The Tuition Assistance Program’s (TAP) maximum award would increase under the Assembly’s plan to $5,500 a year, and then increase to $6,500 over a four-year period. The Assembly’s plan also increases funding for all college opportunity programs by $23.8 million and makes changes to the proposed Excelsior Program to help more middle-class families send their kids to college. The Assembly’s plan loosens eligibility requirements for the program, ensures it keeps up with the rising cost of college, enhances services for special needs students and raises the maximum income level to qualify to $150,000 in the fourth year of the program. The Assembly’s plan also creates a new refundable personal income tax credit for interest on student loans to help reduce student debt.

“The Assembly’s budget plan puts families first and prioritizes our children’s futures,” Jean-Pierre said. “One of the best ways to move New York forward is by investing in education.”