Some advocates are saying that the state budget betrays the hard-won Campaign for Fiscal Equity settlement, which declared the city schools need more money.
But union president Randi Weingarten, a supporter of the case and the groups that filed it, is taking a different point of view. In a statement she just released, she declares that the state budget “reaffirms Albany’s commitment” to the lawsuit. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity, she says, “was deferred but not denied.”
The state budget erases two years of increases in funding that would have grown to more than $5 billion by 2011, postponing them until the future. Only 37.5% of the funds promised over a four-year period have been doled out so far. The Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s executive director, Geri Palast, has repeatedly said that state lawmakers should give the city a “down payment” of funds for next year.
Here’s her full statement:
Given the severe economic conditions facing our state, this budget in many ways has been a story of survival. Protecting children’s educational services is and always has been our top priority. That is why we fought so hard for the federal stimulus funding and the progressive income tax, both of which helped the Governor and the State Legislature deliver a budget that protects schools, health care and the most vulnerable in the wake of a $ 16 billion deficit.
The kids in New York City could have suffered terribly, but thanks to the efforts of many, we have averted the most serious anticipated damage. We will see cuts to programs, but core services should be salvaged and layoffs should be averted.
The new budget also reaffirms Albany’s commitment to the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, which was deferred but not denied, and it rejects a Tier V, which would have been a step in the wrong direction for working families all across the state. In addition, it restores funding for Teacher Centers, which are integral to the training and retaining of quality classroom teachers, and adds much stronger class size accountability language.
We owe a debt of gratitude to Governor Paterson, Speaker Silver and Majority Leader Smith for standing tall for our teachers and public schools. They recognize, just as President Obama does, the importance of keeping people working and keeping the economy moving.
I also want to thank Mayor Bloomberg for his advocacy on behalf of public schools, as well as the State Legislature, the City Council and, most of all, the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who attended our rallies and helped fight for their neighborhood schools.
If this were a marathon, however, we still have the hardest part of the race ahead of us. The city is still facing a deficit and schools still face cutbacks. We must work with our allies in New York City, and hopefully the Mayor and the City Council will continue the momentum and protect against direct service cuts to kids.