Hochul tours $31.5B for schools in New York state

New York schools are set to receive more than $31 billion in state aid as part of a record-setting $220 billion state budget.

But the money touted by Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday — made possible by increasing taxes on upper income earners as well as a cascade of federal aid — may be harder to come by in the near future as economic storm clouds have gathered.

The money in the budget is the second round of record aid increases for schools, including a boost in direct funding known as foundation aid. School districts deem to be high needs are expected to benefit from the spending.

“That’s why I’m so proud to have just signed a budget, supported a budget that has the highest investment in education in our state’s history — $31.5 billion in aid, and I’m going to repeat that $31.5 billion to help transform the lives of our children,” Hochul said on Thursday while appearing at a school in Yonkers. “Every penny is worth it. Every penny is worth it. That’s a $2 billion increase, over 7% increase over just the prior year.”

The trip to Yonkers for the governor was also a chance to promote education aid for the city’s school system, represented by influential Senate Education Committee Chair Shelley Mayer and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who pointed to the years-long effort to increase aid .

“This has been a battle royale for a long time. And it was decided that communities like Yonkers and others needed extra help,” Hochul said. “And that help was denied for far too long, so we settled the lawsuit. We put the money in the budget. We’re going to continue doing this until we make these communities whole with the Foundation Aid they deserve. So we’re going to continue doing that as well.”

But can the money last? Revenue for the state has poured in at a faster rate than expected as the economy recovers from the pandemic and as pandemic relief money heads to New York.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reported revenue overall in New York was $38.8 billion higher in the fiscal year that ended April 1.

Inflation concerns, however, have let to some revisions of optimism. New York’s budget depends heavily on the personal income tax, a source of money that can fluctuate if the economy turns sour.

Previous governors were forced to revise their big plans for school spending after tax revenue dried up.

“We must remember this influx of federal funding is finite,” DiNapoli said earlier this month after the budget was initially approved. “Bolstering state savings through the formal rainy day fund reserves is essential for sustaining services that New Yorkers relies on and improving the state’s long-term fiscal standing.”

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