At a recent Legislative Breakfast in District 3, a member of the state legislature explained that the city's representatives in Albany face challenges as they seek to restore education money to the state budget because of Mayor Bloomberg’s cuts to the city's education budget. The money in question at the moment is $193 million in education funding increases promised for next school year by Governor Eliot Spitzer as part of the settlement of the long-running Campaign for Fiscal Equity legal case.
Education funding comes from both city and state. Because of the way the city budget works, it was possible in the past for the city to use state education funding to close city budget gaps and not pass the education dollars on to schools. State legislators have tried to ensure that if they increase state education funds, the city will maintain its part of the funding; this is called “maintenance of effort.”
State legislators from other parts of New York may well ask why they should vote to restore funds for New York City schools when the mayor, far from showing “maintenance of effort,” is slashing hundreds of millions from the city’s education contribution.
What should parents do? Keep up pressure on Mayor Bloomberg to restore the $340 million he plans to slash from next year’s school budget. If pressure on the mayor is successful, our schools may reap a double bonus: restoration of state funds as well.