Fight Back Friday: Fair funding

NYSUT members are gearing up to visit lawmakers in their offices next week. This is after they do their jobs all day. You can support your sisters and brothers as they advocate for what our schools, campuses and communities need. Write or call your lawmaker on any, or all, of the issues outlined below. Remember, others are out there advocating for their issues. We need every voice possible to provide a counterpoint.
On K-12 issues, ask them to:

  • Redirect the proposed $203 million Fiscal Stabilization Fund to general operating or “foundation aid” that districts depend on each year.
  • Provide additional funding towards the goal of restoring the school aid that has been cut since 2008.
  • Allow reasonable adjustments to the tax cap for costs that are extraordinary or beyond the control of school districts, such as emergency weather-related expenses like districts suffered due Hurricane Sandy, or one-time costs to improve school safety, or even fluctuations in fuel costs.
  • Replace the 60 percent supermajority requirement needed to exceed the tax cap with a simple majority vote.
  • Restore funding for Teacher Centers.
  • Provide special education schools and human service organizations with a desperately needed Cost of Living Adjustment so the staff, students, programs and recipients of special services can receive the support they need.

On higher education, ask lawmakers to:

  • Increase state funding for operating costs for SUNY and CUNY. They need to begin restoring the $1.4 billion in cuts to these institutions that date back to 2008.
  • Restore the state subsidy to SUNY’s hospitals and health science centers. This subsidy was created more than 20 years ago to recognize that New York has a responsibility to at least partially compensate the hospitals for their service to indigent populations.
  • Increase state base aid to community colleges by $260 per full-time equivalent student. The 2013-14 Executive Budget proposes flat funding for community colleges. During these economic times, NYSUT supports SUNY’s rational five-year funding plan of increasing state base aid by $205 per FTE student to get the state to a 33 percent state funding share. Last year, the state provided an increase of $150 per FTE student, which is $55 short of the $205 increase sought in the first year of the rational plan.
  • Ultimately, the state should provide a 40 percent share of funding to live up to its statutory obligation for operating costs for these institutions. The reality of how community colleges are being funded is quite different from the requirements of the education law. In fact, the direct opposite is occurring. Students are now funding more than 40 percent of the operating costs of these campuses.

On retirement security, ask lawmakers to provide some form of smoothing option to school districts that will provide them with a tool to help put an end to the education program cuts we have seen in recent years. Remind them that any option provided to school districts should also take into account the need to maintain the integrity of the states’ retirement systems. The retirement security of both current and future public retirees must be protected. We have the strongest public pensions in the nation and we need to keep it that way.

Thank you for all you do on the job, and for all you do to make our communities work.

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