Education advocates express budget concerns
Education advocacy groups are giving Gov. Andrew Cuomo bad grades when it comes to spending on education in his proposed 2014 budget, as Syracuse parents and community members believe the state needs to come through with substantially more money for schools in the spending plan.
Cuomo’s proposed budget, unveiled this week, includes a $608 million increase in education funding. The increase is well short of what education advocates like former Hannibal school teacher and Citizen Action of New York Board Member Bill Spreeter say is needed.
"His proposal falls far short of a serious investment in our schools and in our children’s future," Spreeter said. "In fact, when you take a look at local school districts affected by his aid increase, you find seven get less aid than they got last year.”
Citizen Action and the Alliance for Quality Education are calling on the state to increase education spending to the tune of $1.9 billion. Advocates point to a study that shows that despite a $1 billion increase in education spending last year, many schools still had to make cuts to programs, classes, resources and staff.
"At the end of the day our schools are in a crisis," said Lekia Hill, a parent and Alliance for Quality Education organizer. "We have a lot of issues happening in our schools. And the only way to resolve that is if we have the funding behind the plans and resources that is needed to have that happen.”
Spreeter added that the Cuomo's proposal for universal pre-kindergarten, which was announced in the speech, doesn’t provide enough funds for such a program. Spreeter supports New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to tax the wealthy in order to pay for universal pre-K.
According to Hill, Cuomo's priorities are off.
“This budget says to me that the governor would rather save millionaires and corporations, by giving them tax breaks and save their own money, than save our own children and the future of the state of New York,” Hill said.
Cuomo and state legislature have until April 1 to come up with final school spending numbers.