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For Immediate Release

For More Information:

March 3, 2005

Soneni Smith, (212) 523-0186,

(917) 517-9393; Bob Cohen,

(518) 465-4600 (x104)

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It's Already Raining, Schools Advocates Say


AQE Says Use "Found Money" to Fund CFE


Albany, NY— The Alliance for Quality Education (AQE) called upon the Governor, Assembly and Senate leadership to use the $1.3 billion in additional state revenues recently "discovered" by the Governor to make a substantial down-payment on funding the Campaign for Fiscal Equity schools decision, rather than putting the money in a rainy day fund or using it for tax relief.  AQE also called upon state leaders not to let an income tax surcharge on high-income individuals expire this year, which would generate an additional $500 million for schools.

 

"The Governor wants to build the rainy day fund, but the courts have made it clear that it’s already a rainy day for schoolchildren in New York,” said Karen Scharff, co-chair of AQE.  "Our kids can't wait any longer for a quality education – the schoolhouse roofs are leaking, literally and figuratively.  The state has the money – it’s time to comply with the court order rather than lose another generation of children."


"A first year installment on the CFE decision would give under-funded schools the resources to start improving education.  They could pay for smaller classes, teacher training, pre-kindergarten programs, after-school programs and other dire school needs," said Scharff.  “The Senate and Assembly should include in their budget resolutions a down-payment on CFE for schools across the state.”


Yesterday, the Governor announced during an open budget meeting that the State had found $1.3 billion in new cash above and beyond the amount projected in his January Executive Budget.  The Governor has stated that this money should be used to build the State's reserves and for tax relief.  The Assembly and Senate have also suggested that at least a portion of the new monies should be used for tax relief.  


"For 12 years, our elected leaders have used every stalling tactic in the book to avoid giving kids their constitutional right to a sound, basic education: it’s been the ultimate in Albany dysfunction," said Scharff, who is also executive director of Citizen Action of New York.  "They can no longer say there’s no money.  It's now clear that the funds are there to take a first step towards full compliance with the CFE schools decision and expansion of the decision to fund schools statewide.”  The CFE case was filed 12 years ago, in 1993, and the State is now 7 months late in complying with the July 30, 2004 deadline set by the Court of Appeals in that case.


As part of AQE's "OurKidsCantWait.Org" Campaign, AQE plans to generate another 5,000 letters by Monday through its campaign web site, www.OurKidsCantWait.Org, urging State leaders to use the new revenues and the tax surcharge to fund CFE.


The Alliance for Quality Education is a statewide coalition of 230 organizations

dedicated to ensuring every child’s right to a quality education.


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