Assemblymember Phil Steck: Assembly Budget Proposal Continues to Make Education a Top Priority

Assemblymember Phil Steck (D-Colonie) announced that the 2018-19 Assembly budget proposal makes critical increases in education funding. The proposal increases Foundation Aid across the state by $1.2 billion for the 2018-19 school year, for a total of $18.4 billion. This reflects an increase of $863 million over the executive’s budget proposal.

“Despite facing difficult budget negotiations with many tough choices, the choice to ensure our schools get the funding they need must be our first priority, and indeed education is the number one issue among my constituents.” said Steck. “We cannot shortchange our students and teachers. Schools must have the resources they need to ensure our children get the best education possible. In so doing, we are fulfilling a decision of our State’s highest court that additional funding was required adhere to our state’s constitutional guarantee to provide a free public education.”

In addition to increasing Foundation Aid, the Assembly budget proposal also allocates an additional $15 million in grant funding for school districts serving large concentrations of English Language Learners or homeless students. Students who have experienced homelessness are less likely to meet the required standards.

“Menands school district had some of the highest rates of homeless test takers among Capital Region school districts1 ,” said Steck. “This is an excellent source of funding for Menands.”

The Assembly budget proposal also recognized the importance of expanding access to higher education. The proposal allocates $37.5 million for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) which provides access, academic support and financial aid to students who come from challenging backgrounds. Additionally, SUNY community colleges would receive an increase in funding of over $12 million, or $100 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student, which will strengthen the financial position of Schenectady County Community College.

“Increasing access to higher education is a critical step in giving our children the opportunities they need to get ahead,” said Steck. “But with student debt proving to be such a difficult barrier for many students, ensuring there are programs that offer financial assistance to students has never been more important.”