NY Gov’s Budget Marginally Boosts Funding for Nonpublic Schools

NEW YORK -

Students attending private schools comprise about a sixth of the entire New York state student population, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget released Tuesday night gives them a marginal increase in funding for the upcoming fiscal year.

Cuomo called for a total increase in education aid of $1 billion, or a 4.1 percent hike. That brings money poured into the state’s 2.6 million public school students to a record high of $25.6 billion.

For the 400,000 private and charter school children, about a third of which attend yeshivos, Cuomo proposed an increase of 3.9 percent, to $181 million. This would be transferred through reimbursements for costs associated with state-mandated activities. For example, schools get paid by the state to perform services on their behalf, such as ensuring children are up to date with their immunizations.

The state’s more than 1,600 nonpublic schools will also continue to receive the two-year $60 million accelerated reimbursement for the Comprehensive Attendance Policy program, under Cuomo’s plan. First enacted last year, under CAP the state pays for schools to take attendance.

Cuomo’s budget adds $25 million in technology funds for nonpublic schools and maintains the current $15 million in security funding.

As opposed to the past two years, Cuomo does not mention anything in his budget book about relief for tuition payers, whether through a tax credit for donors who contribute to scholarship funds or a credit directly to parents. In previous years the Senate, led by Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, had passed a $300 million tax credit for donors. Assembly Democrats have opposed it, deriding it as a giveaway for wealthy givers.

Cuomo last year proposed a $150 million tax credit in which parents would get back most of their tuition paid up to a certain amount. Sources in the governor’s office told Hamodia that the governor intends to attach that proposal to the DREAM Act, which would allow illegal immigrants to attend college, and have it passed together.

The source, who asked not to be named, said this would happen after the budget passes on April 1.

The DREAM Act is a priority for Assembly Democrats but is seen as having little chance of passing in the Republican-led Senate.

Cuomo also proposes renewing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s control over the school system for three years, through 2020. The mayor had asked for seven years, while in previous years the Senate had insisted it be renewed on a year-to-year basis until de Blasio proves he can get a handle on education.