Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski announced that the New York State Assembly passed the 2011-12 state budget that lays the groundwork necessary to put New York’s fiscal house back in order. This year’s on time budget cuts state spending by $3 billion over last year, closes the state’s $10 billion deficit, does not impose any new taxes and restores vital programs.
“With the slow economy and limited revenue there is no doubt that we faced an uphill battle with a very difficult budget; I am confident that we were able to create a spending plan that puts New York on the road to fiscal stability, said Zebrowski. “I know ramifications of these choices will be painful however, giving the choices between a bankrupt state and long term prosperity – these dire circumstances made these choices necessary.”
“Although this budget was difficult my colleagues and I were able to work with Governor Cuomo to ensure that the state’s fiscal burden did not fall disproportionately on working families.”
The final budget increases education funding by $272 million SFY over the executive budget proposal. The restorations include $230 million for general support to public schools, bringing the total to $19.6 billion in the 2011-12 school year. The final budget also includes a two-year appropriation for school aid, providing an $800 million increase in the 2012-13 school year.
“We owe it to our children to provide them with the best education possible and that is why I fought for restorations to ease the burden on our public schools, now is not the time to abandon them,” said Zebrowski
“With these restorations I was able to restore $1,742,513 million for Haverstraw-Stony Point, $221,099 for East Ramapo, $399,146 for Clarkstown, and a combined $423,816 for the Nanuet and Nyack School Districts. It is my hope that these restorations will be able to keep dedicated teachers in the classroom and vital programs running in these districts,” Zebrowski said.
Protecting Universal Pre-Kindergarten
Not only did the Assembly pass restorations to schools in our final budget we also ensured we kept our commitment to Universal Pre-Kindergarten by maintaining funding in the final budget at $384 million in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
“Evidence suggests that early child investments provide high returns for many years such as increased graduation rates and an increased chance for economic stability.” That is what it vital we took the steps necessary to preserve and improve this worthwhile program,” said Zebrowski. The road to economy recovery and fiscal stability not only starts with tight budgets but with investing in the future of our children.”
Special education cost-shift rejection brings relief to school districts
Not only was the Assembly able to restore funding we were able to eliminate the burden of more unfunded mandates on our public schools by rejecting the governor’s proposal to reclassify state-supported schools for the blind and deaf as approved private schools for students with disabilities as well as
restoring $57 million SFY to the Summer School Special Education (4408) program, which reflects an $86 million restoration to school districts on a school-year basis and $ 34.6 million in state support for the Committee on Special Education residential placements.
Summer Youth Employment
This year’s final budget also restored $15.5 million dollars for the Summer Youth Employment program.
“This state funding has contributed to the success of a similar local initiative in Rockland County. It is key that not only do we provide educational funding for our young people but also keep in place job opportunities for motivated youth seeking to gain professional; work experience,” said Zebrowski “Parent’s across the state have seen how job opportunities for young adults have all but disappeared and are nervous that their child will not enjoy the same or better economic opportunities that they have had. I am optimistic that this restoration is a step in the right direct to provide our young people with a foot in the door in competitive industries,” Zebrowski said.
Preserving higher education investments
The 2011-12 state budget also invests in SUNY and CUNY, ensuring New York’s colleges and universities can continue to provide a quality, affordable education. The budget restores $18.1 million for base aid to community colleges, $12.9 million for SUNY and $5.1 million for CUNY.
The final budget also ensures that students who attend public community colleges receive the maximum award from the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). TAP awards annual grants of up to $4,000 to eligible New York residents. The grants are based on income and do not have to be paid back.
“It is essential that we continue our commitment to provide all New Yorker’s with higher education that is high quality and affordable and we must do all we can to ensure each student is obtaining the best education possible so that they may g on to successful careers,” said Zebrwoski.
“The decisions of this year’s budget were some of the most difficult decisions I have ever had to make as an elected official,” said Zebrwoski. “However, I am confident that the right decisions were made in order to reinvent ourselves and to ensure that our state is able to continue to invest in the future and rebound economically in the coming years.”