With education in the forefront, Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced the passage of the Assemblys budget proposal that would provide for an increase in aid to schools by nearly $1.1 billion for SFY 2014-15, the largest increase in six years (E.914). Included in the increase is $367 million for Gap Elimination Adjustment (GEA) restoration, and $335 million in Foundation Aid, providing much-needed funding for schools.
Schools in the Capital Region have been shortchanged for some time, and it is our children who pay the price as less state aid is provided to our area, Assemblymember Steck said. The GEA was introduced in the 2009-10 budget as a way to help reduce the states budget deficit, but unfortunately reduced state aid to school districts that desperately need it. Furthermore, Foundation Aid, which is designed to help our poorest districts, though all districts benefit from it, had been frozen for several years.
Also included in the Assemblys proposal is a multi-year plan to reverse the effects of GEA instituted due to the 2008 financial crisis by providing schools with an increase of approximately $1 billion annually over each of the next four years.
Assemblymember Steck says that this increase in GEA and higher amounts in foundation aid would mean increases to schools in the Capital Region, but that it did not go far enough. He has advocated full funding to help the Schenectady School District fill a $10 million budget gap, increasing school aid overall and eliminating the GEA immediately among other initiatives. Assemblymember Phil Steck says we can, and need to, do more. Some of the Governors tax cuts are not necessary and not targeted to middle class families. That money should have gone to education which the middle class needs to help their children move forward.
The Assemblys proposal for increasing aid to education is a good start, but there is still more work to be done to ensure we are providing the proper funding for the education of our children, said Assemblymember Steck. We have schools in our community that are being asked to continually do more with less and we need to give them the proper resources to educate our students.
Assemblymember Steck also called for preservation of the Stock Transfer Tax, which is presently 100% rebated to the industry. While the Assembly did not reduce the rebate, as I requested, I am pleased the Assembly did preserve this law, so that it can be evaluated responsibly and used in the future to rebuild this States declining infrastructure.