New York’s Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo restored $51 million to New York City schools, $45 million to Long Island schools and $134 million to upstate schools under last-minute negotiations in the state budget Wednesday.
The restorations spread over 700 school districts statewide represented in most cases only slight improvements. Senate Republicans prevailed in gaining slightly larger shares for upstate and suburban schools than under Cuomo’s budget.
Still, what’s being cut from the state’s $21 billion in annual school aid is historically deep. By the Legislature’s count, the statewide cut will still be $697 million statewide. That’s down from what they say was a $929 million cut under Cuomo’s budget proposal.
Previously, Cuomo said his cut totaled $1.5 billion, but that included $600 million in one-time federal money.
The distribution of the restoration wasn’t worked out until late Wednesday night, hours before the $132.5 billion budget was to be voted upon.
Another $42 million in school aid will go to fund schools for the blind and deaf, for summer school for special education students, and several other programs.
“We took a bad situation and made it better. It’s not perfect,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan, a Long Island Republican.
Flanagan said the Legislature and Cuomo also agreed to cover about $190 million in state money that would have been passed to local schools and their taxpayers.
The historic cut in school aid is part of Cuomo’s hard-times budget that cut overall spending 2 percent.
New York City officials still feel the city was treated unfairly.
New York City’s gain is 21 percent of the statewide restoration to school funding, but the district that serves 1 million students was hit with 32 percent of the school aid cut, said Micah Lasher, director of state legislative affairs for Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“We are very grateful to the Legislature for the restoration, unfortunately the restoration is small comfort for a budget that’s incredibly painful for New York City,” Lasher said.
By MICHAEL GORMLEY,Associated Press
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.