Smith Votes To Restore Education Cuts
State Senator Malcolm A. Smith has voted to restore local school aid funding to raise the quality of education in the public schools and restore tuition assistance programs to keep college affordable to all New Yorkers.
"While everyone recognizes that there must be fiscal restraint to close the budget deficit, there are some issues we cannot compromise on," said Senator Smith. "Providing a first-rate education for our children and keeping open the door of opportunity for higher education are investments we must make to keep New York competitive and give all New Yorkers a chance to succeed."
Senator Smith noted that the education budget passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in the Senate, and would provide $13.8 billion to the state’s public schools, including restoring $1.1 billion of the $1.4 billion in cuts proposed by the Governor. New York City schools’ total share is $412 million, including funds to fully restore the Pre-Kindergarten program and prevent larger class sizes.
"By restoring these education funds, our local schools will have the resources they need to support hiring more qualified teachers, reduce class sizes, and invest in books and technology to strive for academic excellence," said Senator Smith. "The restoration will also take a tremendous burden off local taxpayers who are facing double digit property tax increases."
"And in the case of New York City schools, where school aid was partially restored, this will help bring some stability to what is a major fiscal crisis," said Senator Smith. "More importantly, we fought for students in our city public schools and kept our promise to give them a quality education."
Senator Smith said that while the best-case scenario would have been to hold the line on a SUNY/CUNY tuition increase, the Legislature was able to reduce the tuition hike to $950, while shifting some of the financial burden to out-of-state residents.
"To help middle class and lower-income New Yorkers stay in college, the Legislature was able to restore funding for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) by $262 million and fully restore base aid to CUNY community colleges," said Senator Smith. "These restorations will go a long way toward helping defer the tuition increase and keep college affordable for New Yorkers."
Senator Smith noted that several other important education and higher education programs were fully restored, including Bundy Aid, Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP), the Liberty Partnership Program, and the Teacher Opportunity Corps Program. Further, $13.3 million in aid was restored to our public libraries and $8.2 million for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP).