Surplus Grows to $3.3. Billion; Albany Runs out of Excuses for Underfunding Schools

New York State's actual budget surplus for the current fiscal year is projected to be $3.3 billion -- $1.3 billion above Governor Pataki's forecasts -- according to a press release and budget analysis issued by Senate Major Leader Joseph Bruno on January 25.

The whopping, multi-billion dollar surplus is clear evidence that Albany has run out of excuses for failing to adequately fund New York's schools. To shelve a solution to the CFE case this year when the compliance money is available would be a blatant affront to hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren who attend schools ill-equipped to meet their needs. CFE is urging the legislature to reject the governor's inadequate education budget proposal and pass legislation this session that meets the dire needs of the state's education system.

As Senator Bruno explained, "The bottom line is that the State's financial picture is strong enough to return money to the hardworking taxpayers of New York and increase our investments in critical areas, such as education."

The actual surplus figure was released as part of the senate finance committee's analysis of the governor's proposed executive budget. The reason for the governor's underestimate, explains the committee, is that Pataki anticipates a series of surplus-reducing actions that, if enacted, would decrease the actual surplus by 40 percent. "Without the actions proposed by the Executive, the true current year surplus would be $3.3. billion," the committee explained [read full analysis].

On January 17, Governor Pataki issued his proposed budget for 2006-07. The budget includes a paltry $634 million increase for education -- $2 billion short of what schools across the state actually need.

The inadequate budget comes at a time when the governor is over 540 days past the Court of Appeals' deadline for compliance in the CFE case to provide an adequate education for all the state's schoolchildren. Last year, the assembly introduced the Schools for New York's Future Act to meet the court mandate, which calls for just over $2 billion to fund the first year of statewide funding reforms. Mayor Bloomberg, several key legislative leaders, and other interested parties have made strong statements urging the governor and the legislature to dedicate the budget surplus toward funding a CFE solution this year.

January 27, 2006