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Controversy stirs over Hochul’s education budget funding proposal

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  • Staff Report 

Governor Kathy Hochul of New York has introduced a new education budget totaling $35.3 billion, marking a 2.4% increase from last year. Despite this rise, concerns are growing over potential conflicts in education funding. The budget’s focus includes a raise in Foundation Aid, aimed at supporting basic educational services, and a commitment to address mental health in schools.

Finger Lakes Partners (Billboard)

Central to the debate is the “Save Harmless” provision, designed to protect districts from receiving less Foundation Aid than the previous year. However, this policy is under scrutiny as student enrollment drops in most districts.

Budget Director Blake Washington highlighted plans to adjust the Save Harmless provision, considering enrollment declines and reallocating funds to needier districts. The proposal also includes a new mechanism adjusting aid based on district wealth. Despite these changes, Assembly leaders like Will Barclay and Carl Heastie are hesitant, emphasizing the need for detailed analysis. They advocate for more support to less wealthy districts while questioning the extent of funding increases.

The proposed changes aim to ensure fair distribution of educational funds across the state, considering changing district needs and responsibilities, such as addressing the child care crisis and food assistance. Washington assures that no district will receive less than what is allocated by the Foundation Aid formula. The debate continues as stakeholders assess the implications of these proposed changes on New York’s education system.